Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that most truck drivers suffer from, mainly because of the nature of their job. Since they spend a lot of time on the road, it’s not uncommon for them to have irregular sleep patterns or experience trouble sleeping. According to various experts, at least one in three truck drivers suffer from severe or mild sleep apnea.
What’s Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where throat muscles obstruct an individual’s breathing patterns. Since the muscles relax intermittently, it blocks airflow to the lungs. As a result, the individual cannot complete their REM sleep cycle. Throughout the night you’ll be woken briefly since your brain senses your airways closing. The constant arousal will cause your body not to enter the deep and restful phase in the sleep cycle.
This can cause headaches, make concentrating difficult, and lead to serious daytime sleepiness.
How to Treat It
The least expensive way to treat sleep apnea is to use a CPAP machine. This device will keep your airways from closing while you breathe by increasing the air pressure in your throat.
Truck drivers can find CPAP machines that specifically work in their vehicles. They don’t need an additional power source or an inverter to function effectively. Treating sleep apnea allows people to function better when awake and even helps with other medical conditions.
Operating a Truck with Sleep Apnea
Fortunately, since there are several ways to treat it, drivers can continue to work. Talk with your doctor and get a proper diagnosis first. Next, they will suggest several options to help, such as a CPAP machine, lifestyle changes, oral appliances, etc. Your doctor can help you figure out what treatment option would be best for you.
Does It Affect Your CDL?
Unfortunately, sleep apnea will affect your DOT medical card in that you will get one for a single year instead of the regular two years. Therefore, you might have to go in for a yearly physical or show proof that you’re keeping up with your treatment.
Other than this single change, nothing else will affect your CDL. And as long as you can keep your treatment going, you can keep your CDL. Simply communicate with your doctor and follow their instructions, and you won’t run into problems with your CDL.
Can You Lose Your CDL?
It’s very possible you could lose your CDL because of sleep apnea. If the diagnosis shows that you’re suffering from it, you’ll need to consult a doctor and get the necessary treatment. If you don’t follow through on your treatment, you might not receive a DOT medical certificate, which is essential for a CDL.