Safely operating a semi-truck requires you to be well-rested and alert. These are huge pieces of machinery that can do real damage if you pass out behind the wheel and send it careening into oncoming traffic.
As hours of service continues to change, truckers hours and driving habits have changed. Many truck drivers prefer to drive at night when there are less cars on the road, but there is a real possibility of compromising on sleep if you are consistently spending long hours on night rides.
Driving a truck is a very demanding job and not getting enough sleep makes it even more difficult. Not only are you not able to meet the demands of the job, but you are at an increased risk for vehicle crashes.
Most drowsy driving crashes or near-crashes happen during the following times:
- 4am to 6am
- Midnight to 2am
- 2pm to 4pm
You can see the pattern there. Most crashes occur either during late night or early morning hours, when a truck driver would otherwise be sleeping, and during evening rush hour. This is why good sleep counts.
Good Sleep Counts
The fact is this: Good sleep is as important to your health and well-being as proper nutrition and exercise. When your body is getting proper sleep, it is repairing itself and preparing your mind and body for the exertions of the following day.
When you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may encounter the following:
- Your reactions are slower
- Your thoughts are clouded
- Your mood deteoriorates
- You feel more ill and more susceptible to sickness
- Your blood pressure goes up
- Your appetite changes, you overeat or don’t eat too much.
We understand, when you are on the road it’s not always easy to get into a good bedtime routine, but the fact is a good bedtime routine is the one thing that will ensure you get a good night’s rest. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine, whether you are at home or in your cab, will help you improve your sleep.
Your Sleep Environment
A good sleep environment significantly improves your quality of sleep. While your sleep schedule may depend on your driving schedule, you can improve your sleep environment whether at home or on the road.
Here’s how you do it:
- Park safely: Make sure you stop somewhere with a balance of safety and quiet in mind. The last thing you want to do is choose a remote location and end up sliding down a hill because you were looking for the quietest spot.
- Block light: Close all of your curtains and truck shades or you can also use an eye mask or covering.
- Block noise: If you don’t like ear plugs, try a white noise machine like a fan. There are white noise apps you can also download to your mobile device to help you block out the noise.
- Keep a cool temperature: Although many people’s sleep preferences vary, it’s always easier to sleep in a cool cab than in a hot one.
- Get comfortable: If your old sleeper mattress is wafer thin and barely provides any support, it may be time to get a new one.
Try to make sure you are getting at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep each evening. Always try to be aware of your body’s natural sleep times and be cognizant of when you begin to feel drowsy. Don’t push your body to the point where you are passing out on the road.
When you are driving, try to plan your stops and breaks to match your body’s natural sleep times. Sleeping at the the same time every day will help you get a better night’s sleep.
Above all, remember that better sleep not only leads to better health, it leads to safer driving. So next time you feel you aren’t getting enough rest, remember that your sleep is about your safety.