A new story from The Huffington Post about the health of mobile workers like truck drivers asks whether quality of sleep, not just duration of sleep, should be the focus of discussions about driver safety.
Rather than just focusing on the sheer number of hours of sleep, why not think about the quality of sleep? Driver fatigue should be part of a larger concern with driver health, as lack of energy and burnout could be symptoms of a larger issue with health and wellness and poor health promotion. According to a recent study of over 1,600 drivers published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, long-distance commercial truck drivers are more than twice as likely to have diabetes (14.4 percent vs. 6.8 percent nationally) and are more than twice as likely to smoke (50.7 percent vs. 18.9 percent). More troubling, 68.9 percent of drivers are classified as being obese and 17.4 percent as being morbidly obese, vs. 30.5 percent and 7.3 percent of the nation as a whole. Truck drivers are at increased risk of musculoskeletal problems, like back pain, as well as psychiatric illness. And, in terms of access to health care, more needs to be done — 18.3 percent have delayed or did not receive care and 80.2 percent did not receive a flu shot.