Sleep is the body’s way of recharging and rejuvenating itself. So, if you don’t get enough sleep, you will feel stressed, tired, weak and even drowsy – no matter how many cups of coffee you drink. This is not something you want to experience as a trucker or professional driver. Sleep deprivation usually results in lower response time, reduced vigilance and deficits in information processing.
These are all three elements a trucker needs when he is driving long distance. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sleep deprivation has been known to cause over 100,000 car accidents year, over 1,500 of which resulted in fatalities while over 70,000 resulted in moderate to severe, life-threatening injuries.
Please note that these figures are very conservative figures as there’s no way of tracking every trucker or professional driver’s sleep habits while on the job or behind the wheel. The causes of sleep deprivation include narcolepsy – drugs like Modafinil can help with this (should be taken sparingly though) – sleep apnea, family and emotional problems, menopause or andropause, work pressure and so on. The point is sleep deprivation is not good for the body. So, what can you do to get enough sleep and rest?
No Stimulants After 12 noon
Depending on your metabolism, it takes about 6-12 hours your body to get rid of the coffee in your body and its side effects. So, if you’ll be taking any coffee or smoking, we recommend taking all the coffee and cigarettes you need before 12 noon. That way, by the time you get to your destination, it would hopefully, have cleared out of your system, leaving you tired and exhausted – the perfect recipe for sleep. You may also want to limit your coffee intake to just 2 cups per day too.
Check Your Medications
Most truckers tend to be obese, diabetic or have some heart condition. The point is that these drugs typically include beta blockers that trigger insomnia. The same goes for when you take antidepressants. Antidepressants tend to contain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which can also counteract the effect of sleep in the body.
Go over these drugs with your doctor and see what he says. Usually, if you complain of insomnia, they’ll find a solution that might work for. If you are open-minded though, see a chiropractor. They are so good at massaging that you’ll feel completely relaxed when they are done – the perfect incentive for sleep.
If you’ll be staying in a hotel, or even at home, always make sure that your light is off. There’s a reason many people cannot sleep with the lights on. That is because when the lights are on, it is an indicator to the brain not to release the necessary sleep-inducing melatonin. So turn off the TV before going to bed, avoid using any gadget or device that has any backlight. Also get a book to read, this can help you sleep better and provide you with the rest that you need.
This is a last resort. However, if nothing else works, you need to get sleeping pills that will help knock you out and give you the desired rest that you so desperately desire. We would recommend though that you only use this very sparingly. Only take the sleeping pills when every other normal thing has failed.
Eat Healthier and Get Rid of Junk Foods
Junk foods tend to have complex carbs that further inhibits siesta. So, eating junk foods late at night is a definite no-no. Instead, settle for fruits, decent meals no later than 7pm and decent wine. These are healthier options that will help you get some sleep hopefully.
Finally, you may also want to start running more – but all exercising must stop at least 5-6 hours before bed. Exercise helps you sleep better and rest well. Whatever you do, make sure you get decent sleep so that you will not become the victim of an accident or cause any.
The author, Oscar King, is presently studying pre-med at the University of Florida, and writes on the side to supplement his income, usually focusing on topics within his field of study. Understanding the importance of health for drivers, he plans to get certified for DOT physicals as well, but for those who need one right now (or are outside of his area) he highly recommends going to www.driverphysicals.com to find certified physicians. You can learn more about Oscar by visiting his Google+.