Have your eyelids and head ever felt heavy? Have you ever stared into emptiness and yawned nonstop? Do not fool yourself, this means sleep is coming over you!
Many vehicle drivers and machine operators report having sleep problems. We are fully aware that a bad night’s sleep, waking up many times during the night, or a sleepless night lead to a devastating day after, cause extreme tiredness. It is well known that accidents caused by sleepiness happen more frequently in monotonous contexts. Sleeping well is crucial for daytime activities. This is especially the case when you operate heavy machinery or cranes, because slight distractions can lead to accidents, or when you drive a motor vehicle, as an oversight behind the wheel can cause severe accidents such as a high-speed collision against a stationery object or a fall off a cliff, thus putting your and other people’s lives at jeopardy. Therefore, a good night’s sleep is one of the most important safety steps to avoid accidents.
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One group of people at risk here are teamsters, since they have to keep deadlines and, for this reason, tend to work very long days. They often end up using drugs to keep awake. The most commonly used drug is amphetamine, but alcohol and cocaine are also used.
Truck drivers use amphetamine to increase the number of hours on the road either to keep a tight schedule or to maximize their number of trips. However, the damage amphetamine causes truck drivers entail severe risks to their own life and to the lives of all the others on the road.
Very well, now that we know what it is and what it is used for, let’s see how amphetamine acts on our nervous system. It is a stimulant drug that increases brain activity, which gives you the misleading feeling of being less tired. This impression stems from your ability to perform one task for a longer time. Moreover, amphetamine curbs appetite and increases physical and mental capacity, making you feel not sleepy. Tiredness, however, is still there.
Substance abuse, i.e., overuse, leads to mood disturbances such as irritability, aggressiveness, and depression. Moreover, it decreases motor coordination and users can develop persecutory delusions. Put hurry, tired drivers, and stimulant drugs in the equation and you get accidents.
The effects of amphetamine use include, but are not limited to:
- Pupil dilation;
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure;
- Dry nose and mouth;
- Appetite loss;
- Gastric problems;
- Motor restlessness;
- Panic feelings;
- Irreversible brain damage;
- Blurry vision.
Bus and truck companies should plan drivers work and trips in a way that allows them to strike a balance between personal and professional life, thus enhancing their quality of life.
Moreover, sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, and Narcolepsy cause fatigue or incapacitating daytime sleepiness, which can lead to traffic accidents. It is important that professional drivers undergo regular medical evaluation for specific symptoms such as constant snoring, choking, and daytime sleepiness, as well as for physical evidence such as obesity, hypertension, wide neck, etc. Once patients are identified as at high risk for this disorder, a diagnostic test should be conducted. To this end, one option is Sleep Apnea Digital Monitoring (SADM), the Biologix Sleep Test. This is a test you can conduct at home -simple, convenient, and effective, with no need to sleep at a sleep lab. Before going to sleep for the night, just place the Oxistar sensor, which is a high performance oximeter, on your finger and start the test using the Biologix App. Upon waking up, click on “end test” to get the result in a few seconds by e-mail.
The diagnosis can also be established by means of a test called Polysomnography, which is conduct at a sleep lab where patients are required to sleep for one night. There, patients are monitored using sensors that record the passage of air through nose and mouth, blood oxygenation, heart rate, brain activity, as well as chest and limb movements.
The most important thing is to understand the importance of sleep in everyone's daily life and seek help if necessary.
We will now give you a few tips for safe driving that are not only useful to professional drivers, but for all motor vehicle drivers:
1 - It may seem an obvious thing to say, but it is best to drive well rested. To this end, avoid driving at night, especially between 2 and 6 a.m., and after lunch between 2 and 4 p.m
2 – It is also important never to set an arrival time. This will make you nervous, tired, and you might try to surpass insurmountable limits. At the end of the day, sleep always wins.
3 – Healthy food is crucial for all drivers, since heavy, fatty meals are difficult to digest and make you sleepy.
4 – Find the most comfortable position possible to drive your vehicle. Remember that unnecessary efforts or awkward positions are very tiring.
5 – When driving for over two hours, make a quick stop and stretch your legs to enhance blood flow.
6– If you feel sleepy, stop immediately. Find a safe place, park your car, splash your face with cool water, drink water or coffee, and move around.
7 - Never take any medications that affect your alertness. Some of these cause nausea or sleepiness and must be avoided altogether. If you have to take one such medication, just give up driving.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this blog aims at assisting you in your education and is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice. Only physicians and dentists can diagnose diseases and prescribe treatments and medication. Thank you for visiting our website.