Addressing Sleep Apnea And Hoping To Hear From You About Your Experiences

Topic 20222 | Page 1

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Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

There's a new article out:

Addressing Sleep Apnea In Public Transit Operations

Sleep apnea is a common disorder affecting nearly 12% of the U.S. population, in which airway blockages cause shortened breaths or pauses in breathing while one sleeps.

Unfortunately, most people who have sleep apnea are not aware of it and it commonly goes undiagnosed.

One of the most common correlations found in sleep apnea patients is a high Body Mass Index (BMI), or being overweight. Many trucking companies are having sleep studies done on any drivers with a minimum BMI reading, usually somewhere in the high 30's.

We have some great information on Sleep Apnea in our wiki, and you'll find a BMI calculator there also:

Sleep Apnea, Truck Drivers, & BMI Calculator

The article states:

If you are diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, you can begin a more conservative treatment plan. Mild treatment might involve eliminating the use of alcohol and sedatives, making diet changes in order to lose weight, and avoiding sleeping on your back.

We have some excellent tips for trucker health, including proper eating, proper exercise, and getting enough sleep here:

FAQ: Trucker Health - Eating, Sleeping, & Exercise

I know we've had a lot of people in our forum who have been treated for sleep apnea, and I've heard from many of you that it was a life changing experience once you began sleeping properly. If you guys and gals would be interested in sharing your story and your experiences here I'd love to put together an article sharing those experiences so that people can understand sleep apnea, the diagnosis process, the treatment process, and the results of it all a little better. Some suggestions:

  • What were your symptoms?
  • What did the sleep study entail? What was it like?
  • Did you have to pay for the study and the CPAP machine yourself?
  • How long did it take to adjust to the CPAP machine?
  • Did the CPAP machine make a major difference in how you felt? How long did it take to begin sleeping better and feeling better?
  • What advice would you give to people who suspect they may be suffering from sleep apnea?

Thanks!

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

Body Mass Index:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Dan R.'s Comment
member avatar

I'm literally going through the process right now, so I'll give you my own experience up through today.

What were your symptoms?

Mine were quite mild. I'd mentioned offhandedly to my doctor a year or so ago that I sometimes had trouble falling asleep.

What did the sleep study entail? What was it like?

My sleep study was done at home. There was a box that got strapped to my chest that measured chest movement, as well as orientation. It had a nasal canula that measured breaths, and a finger sensor that measured heart rate and blood oxygen levels. I wore that for two nights.

Did you have to pay for the study and the CPAP machine yourself?

It was treated like a normal medical procedure, so through insurance. My company didn't cover a dime(CR England).

How long did it take to adjust to the CPAP machine?

I've been on it for about four days now and I'm not adjusted to it yet.

Did the CPAP machine make a major difference in how you felt? How long did it take to begin sleeping better and feeling better?

I still have trouble falling asleep, I don't think that was actually related contrary to what my doctor thought, but when I do get to sleep I do feel the sleep is better. For me it wasn't as much of a night and day difference as I've heard, but it's new enough that it might require some adjustment of the machine, mask, and my own self. The better sleep happened the second night after I'd gotten somewhat used to it. A tip the clinic gave me was to hook it up and wear it while on the computer or watching TV, something where you're sitting and not really doing anything for an extended period of time, to help get used to how it feels and works.

What advice would you give to people who suspect they may be suffering from sleep apnea? While it's not made a HUGE difference for me yet, I've heard from enough people where it has to say definitely get tested. Not only will you potentially get better rest, but anything you can do to avoid periods where you're not breathing is going to be better for your overall health regardless.

Something I'll also note is that, depending on where you are, it can take some serious time. There was some paperwork issues where I was told over a year ago that I didn't have sleep apnea , with those results coming in shortly after getting my DOT physical done so I got a year card, but told I just had to show the paperwork next time I got my physical done and I'd be good to go. That didn't end up being the case, which is why I'm going through this now, so I've been without a medical card now for a bit over a month and unable to drive. This is NOT something you should put off, as at least where I am in Oregon, the wait to get into a sleep center is quite long. The soonest I found was two weeks from when I called, but having called around the end of May, the second soonest appointment I could get was for July 16th. So definitely not something you want to put off to 'take care of right before the next physical' as that certainly won't work, you'll be down without being able to legally drive for a while if you go that route.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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