Getting enough sleep is difficult for the average person, let alone if you drive a truck. Strict delivery schedules, night driving, and having to spend the night parked in a busy truck stop parking lot make good-quality sleep nothing but a dream for many drivers. The problem with drivers who can’t get enough sleep is that it makes them a danger to themselves or anyone else on the road. Drowsy driving is a major concern for the trucking industry. An estimated 10-20% of large truck or bus accidents involve drowsy drivers who are falling asleep at the wheel or whose reflexes and reaction time is drastically slowed due to exhaustion.
We all know that a good night’s sleep is restorative and feels great but there are numerous other benefits. When you get the right amount of sleep, you have better mental focus, better mood, less risk of developing heart disease or a stroke, lower blood sugar, and a boosted immune system.
Here are a few tips that can help you catch those much-needed zzzzzzz’s while you’re out on the road:
- Avoid using your phone or mobile device because the blue light can interfere with your body’s ability to produce melatonin which is so important for your natural sleep cycle.
- Reduce outside noise by wearing earplugs, parking for the night away from other vehicles, and using a white noise machine.
- Block outside light by wearing a sleep mask, using curtains, and sunscreens.
- Instead of pharmaceutical sleep aids, opt for natural ones like melatonin, valerian root, magnesium, lavender, tryptophan, and L-Theanine.
- If you’re tired during the day, pull over for a 15-minute power nap. Sometimes that’s all you need to perk up for the rest of the day.
- Sleep when it’s dark out. While this may not be possible for those who drive routes at night, keeping your body on a regular day/night sleeping cycle is better for your overall health.
- Before bed, read a book, listen to relaxing music, or do something else that calms you.
- Make sure that the mattress in your sleeper is both comfortable and supportive. A bad mattress not only makes it more difficult to get good, restorative sleep, but it can also cause or exacerbate back pain. The long hours behind the wheel are damaging to your back. You need a mattress that is going to support your back to alleviate your back pain, not make it worse.
The importance of sleep is right up there with a healthy diet and regular exercise as being a vital part of your overall health and wellbeing. As a driver, regular sleep is difficult but the more you can do it, the better your health and the more spring in your step!
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