Archive for the ‘Health Awareness’ Category

March 9th, 2015

Eating healthy can be challenging in itself, but eating healthy on the road presents a whole different set of challenges. When tempted by the convenience of fast food or truck stops it almost seems impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you’re always on the go.

For the month of February we decided to give our drivers a challenge. The True2Blue $7 Challenge challenged our drivers not only to eat healthy, but eat healthy for $7 or less. Drivers could upload a picture of their meal and receipt on Facebook or upload a picture via Instagram using the hashtag #True2Blue7. Yesterday was the final day to enter and we want to thank you everyone who participated! From pizza to soup, you guys were nothing short of creative. Don’t let the end of the contest be the end of your healthy habits. Now that you know it can be done, there should be nothing stopping you.

84208705

Now to the fun part – announcing the winners!

85325605

Congratulations to April Rankin, Joe Fulton, Lori Gibbons, Mariana Storm, Randy Newman, Shelley Johnson and Victor Martinez.

85126930

8516092986002456

March 6th, 2015

According to the National Sleep Foundation, March 2-8, 2015 is recognized as Sleep Awareness Week. The week is observed in an effort to educate the public on the importance of sleep, and the week ends with the Daylight Savings Time “spring ahead” clock change.

We wanted to take this opportunity to speak to our in-house safety manager, compliance, Traci Crane, about a sleep disorder that affects millions of Americans, and a number of professional drivers: sleep apnea. We asked Traci some questions about sleep apnea, who it affects and how it is treated. Check out Traci’s very informative interview below. 

Crane Traci #022

Traci Crane

 

Q: What is sleep apnea? 

A: According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, there are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common. While they each have a different root cause, people with any untreated sleep apnea will stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep. Sometimes, episodes can occur hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.

OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway.  In most cases, the soft issue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. With each apnea event, the brain recognizes that the body is no longer breathing and rouses the sleeper in order to signal breathing to resume. In most cases the sleeper is unaware of these momentary stops in breathing because they don’t trigger a full awakening. This results in the patient’s sleep being extremely fragmented, which can lead to daytime fatigue, as well as other health issues.

It is estimated that more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.

 

Q: What are common symptoms of sleep apnea?

A: A major symptom is extremely loud snoring. Other indications that sleep apnea may be present are obesity, persistent daytime sleepiness, bouts of awakening out of breath during the night and frequently waking in the morning with a dry mouth or a headache. Only a sleep study in a sleep laboratory or a home sleep study can show definitively if sleep apnea is present and how severe it is.

 

Q: Why is sleep apnea common in professional drivers? 

A: Let’s face it; being a truck driver is not always conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Between truck stop meals and limited exercise, a driver’s wellbeing can be impacted dramatically, especially if healthy steps aren’t taken. Significant weight gain along with many other health issues can lead to the possibility of sleep apnea. Additionally, being over the age of 40 puts you at an even greater risk. Many drivers fall into this demographic.

 

Q: What are some ways to avoid sleep apnea? 

A: As best as possible, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet and moderate exercise will go a long way in avoiding sleep apnea and many other medical conditions. There are a lot of great resources on the Internet to show drivers how to eat healthy on the road and find ways to get out and exercise. No doubt, staying healthy and active while over the road is a challenge, but it can be done. You just have to be creative.

 

Q: Are there any treatments? 

A: Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea, there are a couple different treatment options. In most cases, the use of a Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) device helps prevent the sleeper’s airway from collapsing. There are various types of PAP equipment that can be used based on the severity of the sleep apnea. There are also dental devices that can be worn while sleeping that reposition the lower jaw slightly forward to assist with keeping the airway open.

 

Q: Why is it so important to treat/avoid sleep apnea? 

A: Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious and life-shortening consequences: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel, diabetes, depression and other serious risks.

 

Q: In your experience, is sleep apnea easy to overcome for professional drivers/others? 

A: Yes it is. Depending on the severity of the sleep apnea, people have a couple of options. With lifestyle changes and weight loss, an individual diagnosed with mild OSA could show improved breathing and not require any additional treatment. Those individuals who have been diagnosed with moderate to severe OSA can usually see improvement with a C-PAP machine which can be used at home or over the road in a commercial vehicle. Sleep apnea does not need to be a career-ending diagnosis.

 

Q: Do you have any personal anecdotes pertaining to sleep apnea? 

A: I’ve been married to a snorer for nearly 18 years. We’re talking a real window rattler. Earplugs couldn’t block out his snoring. It wasn’t until I moved into my role as Compliance Manager that I became aware of sleep apnea and some of its symptoms. From there, I identified signs of possible OSA in my husband. I encouraged him to speak to his physician and through a home sleep study he was identified as having OSA. He now has a C-PAP machine and we are BOTH sleeping much better!

 

Do you have any questions about sleep/health issues that you would like to ask Traci? Post them on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ConwayTruckload.

Stay healthy, and sleep well!

 

March 3rd, 2015

shutterstock_113245282

Life is full of stressful moments. We’ve all experienced common, everyday stress brought on by job interviews, exams, illnesses, etc. These types of short-term stresses are normal and can even be positive in some cases by increasing alertness and preparing us to handle adverse situations.

Stress-filled events occurring over a long period of time, however, may cause chronic stress that can lead to severe health problems. There are many factors that can contribute to stress. The most ironic is probably the fact that health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, can cause stress, which in turn may lead to other health problems.

Many times, stress is induced by emotional problems, such as pent-up anger and frustration that goes unexpressed, grief, depression, guilt or low self-esteem. Major life changes including the death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, losing your job or the birth of a child are all common stressors.

It’s important to note that stress is exacerbated by the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs — outlets that have been proven to keep the body in a stressed state.

 

Recognizing the signs of stress

Stress affects us psychologically and physically. Common physical effects include headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, reduced sex drive, upset stomach and sleep deprivation. Common psychological effects are anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability and depression.

There are strategies for coping with stress that are proven effective. Recent studies have shown that one of the most successful coping mechanisms for regulating emotions, managing tension and facilitating relaxation is listening to music.

That’s right! Music can stimulate and soothe, calm and energize; it can change our mood and help us concentrate, while at the same time, taking our minds off of the daily stressors in our lives. A favorite tune can be a wonderful pick-me-up when you’re stressed.

Listening to music is a safe, mood-boosting activity you can enjoy when you’re unwinding after a day on the road, cooking dinner or working out. While it’s understood that choosing music that will have the desired effect is a matter of personal preference, we’ve taken the liberty of including the titles of some of our favorite truck-driving themed songs. Enjoy!

 

  • Roll On (18 Wheeler) — Alabama

Told from the point of view of a truck driver’s children who just want him to, “Roll on daddy, ‘til you get back home.”

  • Give Me 40 Acres (To Turn This Rig Around) — Willis Brothers

What else can you say to a cop who pulls you over for going the wrong way down a one-way street in Boston?

  • Tombstone Every Mile — Dick Curless

Ever driven in Aroostook County, Maine? If you do, be careful driving through the Hainesville Woods.

  • Six Days on the Road — Dave Dudley

Tells of the joys and hardships of being on the road and the glorious anticipation of getting back home again.

  • East Bound and Down — Jerry Reed

A top-40 hit from the sound track to the classic trucker movie, Smokey and the Bandit.

  • Convoy — C.W. McCall

This song helped popularize the CB craze of the 70’s and kept us on the lookout for “Bears”.

  • Truck Drivin’ Man — Boxcar Willie

Written and recorded by Terry Fell in 1954, it’s been recorded by over 50 artists. We like Boxcar’s version.

  • Phantom 309 — Red Sovine

A classic take on a popular ghost story theme.

  • I’ve Been Everywhere — Johnny Cash

How many of these towns have you been to?

  • 60,000 Pounds of Bananas — Harry Chapin

A silly little song, the live version will have you tapping your fingers and laughing out loud.

  • Blue Highway — Billy Idol

On having American pride on the big, long, “blue” highway.

  • Teddy Bear — Red Sovine

A trucking tearjerker.


Do you have a few favorites songs or stress coping methods of your own? Share them with us at www.facebook.com/ConwayTruckload.