Transportation Workers' Sleep Issues: Could it affect Public Safety?

Could transportation workers’ sleep patterns affect your safety? Let’s take a look at how sleepiness affects those who operate the most common modes of transportation we use to get to our favorite destinations.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Sleep in America Poll, the majority (69%) of pilots, train operators, truck, bus and taxi drivers report that they get a good night’s sleep. However, when respondents were asked how many hours they slept in a 24-hour period, six in ten report getting six hours of sleep or fewer each night. Among those most likely to say their weekday routine does not allow for adequate sleep were train operators (44%) and pilots (37%).

Furthermore, one in twenty respondents reported that lack of sleep impaired their work performance in the two weeks preceding the survey. Broken down by profession, this included 23% of pilots surveyed, 15% of truck drivers and 10% of bus and taxi drivers.

Sleep apnea was the most common sleep disorder participants reported, affecting 70% of pilots, 82% of truck drivers, 86% of bus and taxi drivers and 88% of train operators. Many participants also reported insomnia, shift work disorder and restless leg syndrome.

Many participants reported napping during mandatory interim rest periods, with nearly eight in ten pilots surveyed (79%) reporting they take advantage of time allotted for sleep.

Transportation workers commonly feel apprehensive about reporting sleep problems, because they fear it could affect their jobs. When discussing sleep issues with this population, remind patients that you not only care about their health, but also the lives of those who could be injured. Remind them that you are an advocate for their health and well-being.

Source: The Clinical Advisor

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