Truck drivers who have severe sleep apnea or who sleep less than five hours each night are more likely to suffer from sleepiness, performance impairment and decreased task vigilance while behind the wheel, according to a study published this month by the American Thoracic Society.

Allan L. Pack of the University of Pennsylvania led a study that tested 247 commercial drivers at high risk for sleep apnea and an additional 159 at lower risk for sleep impairment. Pack evaluated the role of short sleep duration at home over one week in 340 drivers, with 55 sleeping less than five hours. Of the 406 drivers examined, 118 had mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea and 28 had severe sleep apnea.

Over 93% of the drivers were male and over 45 years old and 82% were employed as commercial vehicle drivers at the time of the study. All of the drivers had a CDL.

“The research [shows] that drivers with less than five hours of sleep are more drowsy than drivers with seven to eight,” Martin Moore-Ede, founder of Circadian Technologies told FleetOwner. “The new angle is that the study was done with truck drivers. The conclusion is that truck drivers aren’t that different with other people.”

For more information, go to http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/174/4/446

To comment on this article, write to tnguyen@fleetowner.com