Saskatchewan Trucking Association
Sleep is an integral part of a happy and healthy lifestyle; however, most Canadians report that they sleep poorly. The short-, medium-, and long-term risks involved in poor quality or quantity of sleep are numerous. These include cognitive dysfunction, daytime sleepiness, and increased rates of cold/flu, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression. It’s estimated that approximately 25% of Canadian adults have sleep apnea, and of those, about 80% are undiagnosed.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blocked airway during sleep; throat muscles relax and the tongue or fatty tissue blocks airflow, restricting oxygen and blood flow. Our brain responds by awakening the body through a chemical reaction and activating the throat muscles for resumed breathing. Depending on an individual’s severity, this process may occur hundreds of times per night. Common symptoms are snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, morning headaches, depression, and irritability.
The physical and mental impacts on a person with untreated sleep apnea are:
• 3.7x increased stroke risk1
• 3x increase in cancer mortality1
• Increased risk of diabetes
• Increased blood pressure and incidence of cardiovascular disease
• 50% increase in psychological distress2
• 3x likelihood of sleeping apart from their spouse3 and rate of divorce3
The impacts on workplace safety and productivity are:
• Increased rate of absenteeism
• 2.4x increase in extended sick leave4
• 70% higher likelihood of a workplace accident5
• 2x higher likelihood of a fatal workplace accident5
The impact on driving safety can be deadly:
• 5x rate of preventable accidents6
Sleep apnea is a serious but highly treatable condition. The pathway to treatment involves identifying the risk for sleep apnea through a screening questionnaire, completing an in-lab sleep study or home sleep test, having results reviewed by an accredited sleep physician, and being set up on therapy if prescribed. The gold standard therapy for sleep apnea is Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) Therapy. PAP is delivered via a bedside device connected to a tube and mask. Most benefit plans cover some or all of the therapy set-up costs and ongoing replenishment supplies. Depending on where you reside in Canada, this process can take 4-8 months and involves taking time off work for each of the steps.
Understanding the importance of sleep health and the adverse health effects when left untreated, SleepSmart has developed an easily accessible virtual three-step program. We use the latest diagnostic, therapeutic, and telehealth technology without ever having to visit a waiting room or overnight sleep facility. Individuals can go from screening to therapy in 7-15 days.
If an individual has concerns that they, or someone they know, may be afflicted with sleep apnea, completing a screening questionnaire would be recommended as a first step. The results will assist with directing the next steps if necessary.
1 April 2014 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
2 Bernabe et al. 2015
3 American Academy of Sleep Medicine
4 Teran-Santos et al. New England Journal
5 National Academy of Sciences
6 Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health