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Why Sleep Apnea Is Still a Risk Even Without Screening

The Trump administration withdrew a proposed requirement for sleep apnea testing earlier last month. The potential screening, which was proposed by the previous administration due to an increased number of incidents in which train engineers and truck drivers lost control of a vehicle, was canceled as part of a larger movement to reduce regulations. However, even without the screening, sleep apnea presents a growing risk for truck drivers.

What is sleep apnea and why is it becoming more common?

When people think of sleeping disorders, they typically imagine narcolepsy, under which people can fall asleep even during the course of day-to-day activities, or sleep walking. But sleep apnea is a condition under which people get breathe poorly while asleep and are exhausted throughout the day due to poor sleep quality. This, in turn, makes people with sleep apnea less aware and more likely to fall asleep, even while driving.

Ten percent of people have sleep apnea, and there's an increasing amount of evidence documenting that both the number of people affected by it and the severity of each case are going up. In many cases, weight gain is behind increased compression of airways: people might start to snore, wake up throughout the night feeling suffocated, or even start to develop obstructive apnea, in which the airways are temporarily blocked. Truck drivers, due to having a job that limits physical activity and schedules that can easily discourage healthy meals, are particularly susceptible to weight gain and poor physical fitness that can aggravate the condition, and truck drivers are also in the dangerous position of driving dangerous vehicles with little variation or stimulation.

Exercising regularly and eating well are critical components in keeping your health when you're a truck driver, and monitoring your sleep quality is becoming just as important. Go to National Truck & Equipment Sales for tips on how to stay moving, eat healthily even on continuous routes, and how to make sure you're getting the sleep you need.