ATLANTA — Sleep disorders are a topic representing a great amount of uncertainty when it comes to trucker health regulations, and they were a topic addressed at the Healthy Trucking Association of America‘s Healthy Trucking Summit on Feb. 3.
Duke Naipohn, president and CEO of Sleep Pointe, addressed attendees with an overview of sleep apnea and guidelines for managing it. “I want you to understand that this is a relatively simple process,” Naipohn said. “(Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is … easy to identify, easy to treat and can be fairly easy to manage if you take the right approach.”
With around 40 percent of the driver workforce affected by sleep apnea, according to Naipohn, screening and education are extremely important in keeping drivers healthy, safe and on the road. He said fleets can typically half the cost of sleep apnea screening and compliance by creating their own programs.
Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, chief medical officer for Fusion Sleep, provided the group with information on Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a condition he termed “the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and miserable sleep disorder.” He said RLS often can be associated with sleep apnea, but it is a central nervous system disorder, meaning it requires a different treatment approach. And it’s a fairly common condition.
“About 11 percent of people have RLS,” Durmer said. “This is the most common genetic condition we know of in medicine. Sixty-eight percent of those men and women saw doctors, but only 12.9 percent were diagnosed.” Durmer said awareness of the condition is key to ensuring it gets treated and that the quality of life of RLS patients is raised. There are no data on how many truckers have RLS, but Durmer said adults who have a waist size greater than 40 inches or a BMI higher than 30 have a 160 percent higher chance of having RLS.
Treatment options for RLS include a variety of prescription medications.
Affected trucks include model year 2008-2018 Freightliner Cascadia and Western Star 4700, 4900, 5700 and 6900 trucks. DTNA says after hard brake applications, the brake light pressure switch may not activate the brake lights with the light application of the brake pedal.