Healthy Living

How Often Are Airline Pilots Tested for Sleep Disorders

Pilots are immediately placed on CPAP after they have their diagnosis

Obstructive sleep apnea needs to be treated by the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Automatic Positive Airway Pressure device, which is worn while sleeping. Currently, there are almost 5,000 FAA-certificated pilots who receive treatment for sleep apnea. They are flying with a special issuance medical certificate that requires them to follow medical advice.

Untreated OSA has always been and will continue to be one of the disqualifying medical conditions. AMEs are advised by the FAA to watch for those they suspect have OSA or other sleep-related disorders, such as insomnia, neuromuscular or connective tissue disorders, or restless leg syndrome. These disorders are signs of problems interfering with restorative sleep, and a lack of restorative sleep is one of the main reasons pilots are dysfunctional when flying.