Trucking is a difficult job. Truckers often drive long distances for many hours with few breaks in between. Such a stressful job takes its toll on truckers across the industry. Below, we discuss three sleep disorders prevalent in the trucking industry.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. In a recent study involving 949 truck drivers, insomnia affected 27.5% of the sample. The study also found that truck drivers with insomnia reported a significantly higher number of motor vehicle accidents. They also had a two-fold risk of driving accidents and a three-fold risk of near-miss accidents.
#2. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops. There are several types of sleep apnea, including:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: Occurs when throat muscles relax
- Central sleep apnea: Occurs when the brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome: Occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), obstructive sleep apnea is the most common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness, and it is quite prevalent among truckers. In fact, among an estimated 14 million commercial drivers in the United States, approximately 17-28% of them suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
Alarmingly, most cases of obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed and untreated. Multiple studies have found that untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of vehicular crashes.
The disease of addiction has a major impact on sleep quality. According to NCBI, approximately 13.6% of truckers suffer from depression while 7.9% suffer from anxiety. These psychiatric disorders can lead to an increased risk of drug dependency, which in turn negatively affects sleep quality. In fact, NCBI reports that approximately 36-72% of alcohol users report having insomnia.
In regard to drugs, over-the-counter, prescription, and illicit drugs can all have a negative effect on driving ability. Individuals who use stimulants like amphetamine, cocaine, thyroid hormone, and xanthine derivatives (caffeine in excessive doses) may have periods of total sleep suppression, often followed by periods of severe hypersomnia.
Injured in a Truck Accident? We’re Here to Help
Driving while drowsy is extremely dangerous, particularly for truckers operating big-rigs traveling at high speeds. Trucking companies must do everything they can to foster a work culture that respects and follows federal guidelines for hours-of-service regulations, and discourages truckers from driving while drowsy.
Sadly, this does not always happen. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, our team at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP may help you recover the compensation you need to move forward.
Call Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP at (800) 900-0863 to schedule a free consultation.