Delivering The Holidays: Truck Drivers & Sleep
The holiday season is a little different in 2020. Stores remain closed, streets remain sparse, and some can’t make it home for the holidays this year. The nation is relying on essential workers to deliver essential packages; whether it’s headphones, diffusers or antibacterial hand soap, now more than ever as demands grow and time counts swiftly down to the New Year. Thanking the truck drivers we’re counting on to deliver the holidays, however, falls short of considering their own needs with sleep deprivation as a leading concern for these around-the-clock laborers.
Truck drivers’ irregular schedules and lengthy hours are grating year-round as over 16 billion packages are delivered annually. But, this pressure reaches a peak during the holidays when it’s estimated that over 2 billion packages are delivered in the US alone between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Truckers often average less than 5 hours of sleep per day, plummeting circadian rhythms below the critical 7 hours needed for a typical adult. This can lead to drowsy driving, which is considered as debilitating as drunk driving, with over 90,000 reported accidents caused by driving drowsy each year (this number is suspected to be under-reported and the prevalence of sleep-related accidents is expected to be much larger). It’s suspected that many drivers don’t even realize their accidents are caused by periods of sleepiness, labeling crashes as distracted driving rather than drowsy driving when they don’t recognize signs of exhaustion such as microsleep.
Even with safety regulations urging truck drivers to rest 10 hours before coming on duty for shifts, truckers are still susceptible to sleep irregularities due to a lack of healthy food options on the road, imbalanced sleep routines, long periods of physical inactivity, and more. Each one of these can atrophy sleeping experiences, resulting in impaired REM cycles and restlessness which eventually lead to more sleep deprivation and drowsy driving. Improving the quality of rest, if not the quantity, for drivers can significantly reduce the prominence of sleep-related accidents.
With Somnology’s SLaaS® (Sleep Lab as a Service) program, we can reach a driver wherever they may be for an initial screening followed by continuous monitoring and follow-up care. Rather than the traditional method of having to locate an in-person board-certified sleep physician, for which there are only 7500, and conduct an overnight stay, Somnology’s SLaaS® provides the ability of a sleep assessment from wherever the truck driver is at the moment. The continuous, professional monitoring and follow-up occurs virtually which allows the driver to be aided no matter their location. Not to mention the increased speed, reducing the turnaround period from 180 days to just 10 for testing, diagnosis and beginning treatment.
Understanding the sleep health of each essential driver has never been more important, and there’s never been an easier way to access that information than with Somnology and our team of Telehealth sleep professionals that go wherever drivers do. We all need the confidence of safe travels this year and Somnology can take us one step closer to safer roads and smoother deliveries. If you feel that this service applies to you, please feel free to peruse the resources on our website.