Truckers Struggle With Sleep Problems

Have high rates of excessive fatigue, increased accident risk, Australian study finds

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FRIDAY, Nov. 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Australian truck drivers have high rates of excessive sleepiness and sleep-disordered breathing that appear to be associated with increased accident risk.

That finding appears in a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study of more than 2,300 truck drivers found that about 60 percent had sleep-disordered breathing and 16 percent had obstructive sleep apnea, compared with 24 percent and 4 percent, respectively, among the general population.

Sleep-disordered breathing was defined as five or more temporary breathing pauses per hour while sleeping. Sleep apnea was defined as five or more breathing pauses per hour, plus a high score on a specialized sleepiness scale.

The study found that 35.5 percent of the truck drivers had had a total of 1,407 accidents in the previous three years. Almost half these truck drivers (48.3 percent) had more than one accident in that time.

Sleepiness wasn't the only factor in increased accident risk. Narcotic analgesic and antihistamine use also led to increased accident risk among the truck drivers, the study said.

More information

The U.S. National Center on Sleep Disorders Research has more about sleep and safety.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Nov. 1, 2004

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