Image courtesy of Jim Allen, 365trucking.com
Consistent lack of sleep is not fun. It impacts our mood, our ability to focus, our ability to think logically, and even our motor function. In fact, irregular sleep patterns have been linked to diabetes, migraines, weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, mood disorders and shortened life expectancy.
Inconsistent sleep and wake times, noisy truck stops, uncomfortable sleep conditions, and a less-than-healthy lifestyle all contribute to ongoing sleep deprivation. And, this is a common reality for long haul truck drivers.
There are so many different ways drivers can improve their own sleep quality. Having said that, the added resources that carriers can provide to support drivers in their cause is always helpful. Here are some suggestions on how organizations can provide sleep support for their drivers:
1. Mattress Quality Makes A Difference
Let’s face it. The mattresses in truck sleepers are usually pretty uncomfortable and usually of poor quality. Consider providing your drivers with a 3- to 6-inch thick memory foam pad to go on top of the cab’s existing mattress or replace the old mattress with a higher quality one.
2. Swap Caffeine For Exercise
It’s time to get a move on, folks. Encourage your drivers to reduce or completely eliminate their daily caffeine consumption. Caffeine inhibits the production of melatonin (ie. the sleep hormone) while movement and exercise produce MORE melatonin. The more melatonin you have in your body, the more deep and restful your sleep may be. Sleep is a time when your body recovers and restores its energy -- all good things! Remind your drivers to get some fresh air and go for walks whenever possible while on the road. Go a step further and encourage them to stay active on their days off. Consider providing your drivers with subsidized gym or pool memberships to keep the momentum of their healthy living initiatives going.
3. The Seriousness of Sleep Apnea
Did you know that almost 30% of truck drivers have sleep apnea? Obstructive sleep apnea is dangerous because it disrupts sleep and can also significantly impair alertness and mental clarity. Drivers who are most likely at risk are those who are overweight, loud snorers, and who smoke. Be sure to encourage your drivers to get tested and offer access to CPAP machines for treatment.
Sleep impacts quality of life. Period. Carriers have an opportunity to help drivers live safer, healthier lives. What are you doing to improve your driver’s sleep?
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