It's hard to argue against the fact that sleep is vital. Whether you're a truck driver, student, or computer programmer — sleep is crucial for your health and ability to do your job well. However, we often take it for granted and don't talk about it enough. As June is Men's Health Awareness month, we thought it would be helpful to not only discuss the importance of sleep but also share some tips on how to improve your sleeping habits.
For truck drivers, the physical and mental wear from working 70-hour weeks can challenge even the most experienced drivers on any given week. Here are some quick sleeping tips that should be considered in order to make the work day a little safer and healthier:
1) Monitor Your Evening Diet: Truck drivers can be quite creative when it comes to staying alert on the road. But it is critical to limit caffeine intake. Certain energy drinks and soft beverages can fill your body with caffeine that can stay in your system for 8-14 hours. This means that truck drivers ought to think twice about mid-afternoon caffeine pick-me-ups if it means they may have difficulty sleeping at night. Other dietary suggestions include avoiding heavy or spicy foods and nicotine intake from smoking cigarettes before bed.
2) Counter Fatigue Immediately: Driving a vehicle is a tremendous responsibility and an even greater responsibility when that vehicle is a mammoth 18-wheeler. As a truck driver, if you find yourself experiencing telltale signs of sleep deprivation like highway hypnosis, heavy eyelids or a constant desire for a caffeine fix, you should do the smart thing and pull over. Evaluating precisely why you are tired will help correct your sleep cycle. Even if you have to take a 20 minute nap outside of a rest stop, your mental instincts will be sharper and your body will thank you.
3) Foster a Better Sleeping Environment: Believe it or not, you have the ability to give yourself a better night’s rest just by implementing small changes into your nighttime surroundings. Make sure that there is minimal light exposure where you sleep by putting up curtains or shades and possibly wearing a sleep mask. Ear plugs for sleeping are also popular for preventing sleep disturbances in the middle of the night. Other sleeping tips in this area include ensuring that the cab temperature is cool enough and keeping a fan nearby to cancel out low-frequency noises.
4) Map Out a Sleep Routine: Topping off our list of sleeping tips for truck drivers is the importance of having a sleep routine for all times of the day. Sleep may come at any hour of the day when you drive trucks. What you do with your break time will impact the hours remaining that allow you to sleep. It is important to get to know local rest stops, gas stations, food joints and facilities that have showers. If you must, keep log of the details of your favorite break spots. This saves you the time of having to find the perfect parking spot, eat a satisfying meal and take care of your hygiene. When you can organize all of the steps that come before sleep, you will simply have more time for sleep.
Need more in depth info about these tips? Our friend Hope Zvara, from Mother Trucker Yoga, explains some of these sleep strategies in detail here Can't Sleep? 3 Truck Driver Strategies For Better Sleep!
We hope you can integrate these sleeping tips into your daily truck route, and start feeling fresh and alert behind the wheel.
For more information about truck driver health and wellness be sure to check out this blog post: Truck Driver Ergonomics: Best Practices and Tips