transportation and trucking




Why Detecting and Treating Sleep Apnea Puts You in the Driver’s Seat


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has gotten the attention of the trucking industry in recent years, but understandably, drivers may be reluctant to seek testing or treatment. The worry that a diagnosis of OSA will cost them their job or their ability to find work is a heavy one on American truck drivers.

But statistics show that fleet operators are wise to be concerned. It’s estimated that nearly 30 percent of the 3.5 million commercial truck drivers in the United States have mild to severe sleep apnea which is associated with disrupted sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. That makes OSA a major concern for all of us, as sleepiness is believed to be a factor in up to 20 percent of all large truck crashes in the United States.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

DROWZLE® is a cost-effective way to screen truck drivers and others for obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike online assessments, DROWZLE uses the driver’s smartphone to capture breathing sounds and patterns during sleep. These sound files are uploaded to the cloud and analyzed to provide a more accurate screening for OSA.

DROWZLE can help you identify drivers who need a diagnostic sleep test and screen out those who don’t. And because DROWZLE can be used anywhere, it makes it easy to assess employees when they’re on the road.

How OSA Affects Overall Health

OSA is a life-threatening sleep breathing disorder that is believed to affect 28% percent of commercial truckers, according to a report by The Chicago Tribune. The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea among commercial truck is similar to that of the general population. However, truck drivers have a higher rate of obesity than the general population, and obesity is known to worsen the severity of OSA.

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In individuals who have OSA, the soft tissue in the back of their throat collapses and partially or completely closes their airway while they are asleep. This can cause their breathing to stop from 10 to 120 seconds at a time as often as dozens of times per hour or hundreds of times per night.

The periods when you stop breathing also cause dips in blood-oxygen levels, which can release stress hormones, affecting blood pressure and heart rate.


The lack of quality sleep has been linked to:
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Mood and behavior problems
  • An up to 70 percent greater risk of workplace accidents when compare to non-sleep workers *
  • A two- to three-times greater risk of vehicle accidents *
  • Cognitive performance that is similar to being intoxicated *

Obstructive sleep apnea also causes or worsens other health conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, congestive heart failure, risk of stroke, and risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, it can be effectively and successfully treated. Treatment options have greatly improved in recent years and advances in technology have resulted in much better comfort and ease-of-use.

OSA is More than Snoring

Common signs and symptoms of OSA include:
  • Choking or gasping while sleeping
  • Morning headaches and nausea
  • Loud snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability or feelings of depression
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Concentration & memory problems
  • Frequent night-time urination
  • Loss of sex drive, impotence or both

The Health Consequences of OSA

More likely to suffer from mood and behavior problems, headaches, difficulty concentrating and memory issues.

more likely

Four times more likely to have a stroke than someone without OSA.

More likely to have a high body mass index by their late 20s.

more likely

Three times more likely to have heart disease.

OSA’s Effect on Drivers

OSA is associated with poor decision making, slower reaction time, blurry vision, inability to concentrate or focus, and decreased daytime alertness.

Large truck crashes

Up to 20% of large truck crashes are attributed to drowsy or fatigued driving*


Trucks drivers who fail to adhere to sleep apnea treatments have a five times higher rate of preventable crashes than drivers who don’t have the condition.*

*Source: Harvard H.T. Chan School of Public Health

The Benefits of Overcoming OSA

Proper diagnosis and effective treatment of OSA can greatly improve an individual’s quality of life, and overall physical and mental health.

Better Sleep

According to one study, truck drivers diagnosed with severe OSA who received treatment with CPAP reported increased amounts of sleep (84 %).

They also reported feeling better when they wake up (71 %)*
Source: American Transportation Research Institute

Improved Health

Drivers who were effectively treated for severe OSA with CPAP lowered their blood pressure (75 %).

Half of truckers who were treated for OSA lost weight (50%).*
Source: American Transportation Research Institute

According to one study, drivers who received treatment for OSA missed fewer work days (an average of 4.4 days) and had lower short-term disability costs (an average of $258 over two years).
Source: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Less Worry

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations say that once drivers are successfully treated for OSA, they may regain their ‘medically-qualified-to-drive’ status.

Truckers with do not effectively treat their OSA are five times more likely to get in a serious, preventable accident as those who do get effective treatment.

Source: American Transportation Research Institute; FMCSA; Sleep



We created the DROWZLE mobile software system to provide an easy way to record and analyze sleep breathing patterns, so you know when you need to talk to your doctor or take steps to improve your sleep breathing health.

As you sleep, DROWZLE records sleep breathing patterns and sends sound files to our secure servers in the cloud.

DROWZLE analyzes and interprets the sleep results along with the profile you provide, to measure and track your sleep-related health risks over time. Each morning, you receive the results from the prior night’s sleep.

DROWZLE can provide tips and resources to help you understand your sleep health risks so that you can have more restful nights and alert days.