According to Sleep by the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation has a remarkable influence on our ability to function mentally, emotionally, and physically. For instance, our reaction time gets slower, we get moodier, our immunity decreases, our memory suffers, and our heart health takes a nosedive.
For truck drivers, in particular, having a quick reaction time, staying calm behind the wheel, feeling well-rested, and generally staying healthy is especially important. However, with the crazy schedules of professional truck drivers, it’s not uncommon to encounter sleep deprivation.
In fact, statistics show that 87.2% of the reasons commercial truck drivers get in accidents are due to human error. 13% of those cases are due to fatigue with 7% of truck drivers actually falling asleep behind the wheel prior to the collision.
Following these four tips can help you stay more alert on the road during your shifts:
1. Don’t take sleeping pills if you have to wake up before they wear off.
Because of the irregular schedules of truck drivers, it’s not uncommon that they turn to sleep pills to ensure they get a restful night’s sleep. However, as a word of caution, it’s important to refrain from taking sleeping pills if you have to drive sooner than before the pill wears off in order to avoid sleep inertia.
2. Avoid forcing yourself awake.
Most truck drivers have probably tried all sorts of methods to keep themselves awake: blast the AC, turn up the radio, talk on the phone with someone, amp up the caffeine, roll down the window, and so on. These methods, while they might seem to work at times, are like band-aids: they don’t really resolve the underlying issue. The sleep deprivation will still be there.
While listening to music while tired, for instance, might help wake you up a little, the big problem with forcing yourself awake is the fact that many truck drivers keep turning to these methods, thinking that getting more sleep is no longer necessary when it’s still critical more than ever before.
3. Take naps when necessary.
Don’t wait until your bedtime to go to sleep. Especially if you’re already lacking sleep, it’s a good idea to implement some naps throughout the day if possible. Getting caught up on sleep when you can is important for your overall health.
4. Upkeep your nutrition.
Sleep and nutrition play hand in hand. If you’re lacking nutrition, chances are, you’re only going to get sleepier. That said, stopping for grub at a gas station or bringing some snacks with you from home on the road are good ideas to give you the fuel you need to stay more alert and less fatigued.
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Sleep deprivation is a common concern for commercial truck drivers around the globe. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent it. Avoiding taking sleeping pills if you have to drive before they wear off, refraining from “forcing yourself awake,” taking naps as needed, and making sure to eat well are all important for truck drivers’ safety on the road.