Sleep (Part I)
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 41 million working adults get six or fewer hours of sleep each day (on the average we need somewhere between 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep at night. It seems that in our modern developed society, more and more people are putting off sleep intentionally due to work pressures and family obligations. Let’s not forget the various leisure activities we engage in with our significant others (yoga class, running, or just catching up on the latest episode of our favorite television shows). This type of intentional sleep deprivation can be detrimental to our health. Apparently, we not only get “cranky ” from lack of sleep, but we increase our risk for impaired cognition, mood disturbances, chronic pain, and altered sugar metabolism leading to weight gain and insulin resistance . According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) fatigue impaired performance is similar to alcohol impaired performance, which plays a role in automobile accidents and even plane crashes. This is of course why there are regulations in place regarding required rest periods for commercial drivers and airline pilots.
The FMCSA has recently commissioned the Virginia Tech Transportation as part of a $4 million dollar study of the controversial 34 hour restart rule (suspended by Congress in December), to look at the impact of restart breaks on commercial truck driver safety performance and fatigue levels.
This is all with the current controversy over obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) screening, highlighted by the recent FMCSA bulletin to the NRCME and training organizations, and the OSA ruling passed by Congress in 2013 that required the FMCSA to go through the formal rule making process for any new or revised requirement for the screening, testing and treatment of OSA.
Sleep deficiency, poor sleep hygiene, and sleep disorders like OSA certainly are not just problems of workers in the transportation industry. Looking at all possible factors that lead to disordered sleep in a captive population like commercial drivers and pilots will help improve safety. However, we can not afford to ignore or forget the many people in the general population with sleep deficiency or sleep disorders like OSA, which also affects public safety.
To be continued…
1. John Hopkin’s Health Review. Fall 2014 Volume 1, Issue 1 . Cheating Sleep. Our unhealthy nocturnal habits. Sarah Richards
2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sleep and sleep disorders.