Top things to know about Sleep Apnea and CPAP for Truck Drivers
If you have been told to get a CPAP or to be tested for Sleep Apnea, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. In most cases the Truck Drivers that we have dealt with have a limited time (90 days it seems in most cases) to resolve the CPAP or Sleep Apnea issue for their DOT Medical Card. That means that if you received a 90 day extension for your Medical Card then you don’t have much time. In 90 days you will have to be tested for Sleep Apnea, start CPAP Therapy (if needed), and become compliant on your CPAP. Compliance is usually at least a 30 day time period. So at the very latest you would have to have started your CPAP Therapy by day 60 of the extension time period. Do Not Wait.
Make sure that you purchase a CPAP that can produce an Appropriate CPAP Compliance Report. You will almost certainly be required to prove your CPAP Compliance (CPAP usage) when you renew your medical card going forward. That means that you will have to have a report for your DOT clinic that shows that you have been using your CPAP daily. Most major CPAP brands have the ability for your Provider to pull those reports for you. Some use an SD card, some use Bluetooth, and others have built in Cell Modems. Make sure that you understand how you will obtain those reports from your provider. At CPAPmyway we include this service with the purchase of our CPAP Machines.
Be ready to power your CPAP on the road. It seems that in most cases our over-the-road truck drivers seem to have AC hookups in their cabs these days. However, make sure that you have a plan to hookup your CPAP. Some CPAP models even run on 12 volt, so that you can plug it directly into your DC port in the cab.
Buy your CPAP from a Provider that has your back for the long haul. Keep in mind that you will need compliance reports from your CPAP Provider as well as support with issues that may arise. That means that if you are buying your CPAP second hand or from some random place that isn’t a CPAP specialist, then you will probably have a tougher time. We have had many customers come to us with a CPAP machine that they have purchased from somewhere else only to find that their CPAP Serial Number has already been claimed by another CPAP user. Which makes obtaining reports difficult, if not impossible.
See a Sleep Specialist- A sleep specialist will be able to test you for Sleep Apnea. Be sure to let that Doctor know from the very beginning that you are a truck driver and that you are on a time crunch. In many cases they can help fit you in if their schedule is tight. If they determine that you need a CPAP machine, they will typically be able point you in the right direction on obtaining the CPAP that you need. Sometimes you will need a referral from your primary Doctor to set that up. This process can take some time so make sure that you start early.
Ask your DOT clinic for their recommendation for Sleep Testing- Many DOT clinics will at the very least have an option for Sleep testing for you. Most of the time they will point you in a pretty decent direction.
Order from an online testing company- There are many different testing companies that will help you get tested for Sleep Apnea. Make sure that the sleep test company you are using works with a Board Certified Sleep Doctor.
Visit your primary Doctor- Most primary Doctors are fairly familiar with Sleep Apnea and testing. They will usually order a Sleep Test for you from a Testing Company. This is probably the best bet if you are considering using your insurance. This will most likely take the most time. So once again, start early. In some cases you may even be able to take the Sleep Apnea form from your DOT Clinician to your Primary Doctor. If you Primary Doctor knows you well enough to rule out sleep apnea without testing, then you are going to save a ton of time, money and effort.
How often do I need to use my CPAP as a Truck Driver?
CPAP Compliance is a pretty standard metric. Most DOT clinics, trucking companies, Insurance Companies, and Sleep Doctors see CPAP Compliance the same way. That standard is using your CPAP for 70% of the days in a given time period. With that being said we have had trucking companies require compliance as high as 90%. So do your homework. Additionally, you need to know what “using your CPAP” means. A day will only count as a compliant day if you have used the CPAP for at least 4 hours in that 24 hour period. So a quick example of the bare minimum for compliance would be, using your CPAP for 21 out of 30 days for at least 4 hours on those 21 days. There are some details that we discuss in the video. You can help yourself by using some of the tips and tricks that we discuss.
Will I ever be able to stop using my CPAP as a Truck Driver?
We are asked how to get off CPAP by truck drivers all the time. This question is usually best directed to your DOT Clinic, because there are some variances on the answer. The answer that we hear the most is that you must have a Sleep Test showing that you are now negative for Sleep Apnea. You will probably also need something in writing from the Doctor that interpreted the test stating that you do not need a CPAP. You may also be able to take your current sleep test results to your Primary Doctor or a Sleep Specialist for a second opinion. In some cases a Doctor that can review your results and make a recommendation that you do not need a CPAP. It boils down to proving that you do not have sleep apnea anymore.