Obesity, sleep disorders and fatigue in professional drivers: effects of weight loss and continuous positive airway pressure therapy on driving performance

This research project focused on the consequences of impairment due to fatigue and sleepiness in professional truck drivers who are obese, both with or without sleep apnea (SA).

SA is an often debilitating sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and symptoms of fatigue that tend to worsen over time when the SA is left untreated.

This treatment improves quality of life of truck drivers and could reduce the risk of accidents.

Obesity is one of the most significant factors associated with and affecting the severity of SA. Unfortunately, the incidence of obesity among professional truck drivers is very high.

During this project, overweight professional truck drivers with and without sleep apnea underwent a weight loss program. The drivers with SA also received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.

The results showed lower weight loss in the drivers with sleep apnea (3.6 kg vs. 10.2 kg). On the other hand, all of the drivers showed improved sleep quality and reduced clinical symptoms of sleepiness and fatigue. Driving assessment in a simulator and on the road (naturalistic driving) before and after treatment showed no change in driving performance. These findings support suggestions that the harmful effects of obesity and SA on driving are insidious and hard to predict. Treatment through CPAP and weight loss improves quality of life of truck drivers and could reduce the risk of accidents.

Main researcher

Normand Teasdale, Université Laval


Research report


Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: June 2015