It is not easy to get a good night’s sleep if you are in the trucking business. There are a lot of things you need to deal with just to sleep or stay asleep. But regardless of your struggles, you need to sleep as the lack of it poses numerous risks for drivers.
Chronic sleep deprivation will increase your risk of certain health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression, among others. And on top of that, sleep also affects your focus, reaction time and decision making while on the road. As a result, you’ll be more at risk of getting into a road accident.
Insufficient sleep is a big problem in the hotshot trucking and transportation industry as a whole. As such, it is important to learn how to overcome this problem.
Challenges that may affect your sleep
Sleeping in a hotel can be expensive so most truckers sleep in their trucks. And this is what makes getting a good night’s sleep a challenge. Apart from the fact that your mattress may not be as comfortable as the one you have back home, there are other factors that can affect your sleep. The key to getting a good sleep en route to your destination lies in recognizing the following factors and addressing each of them:
Unless you are one of those not-so-many people who prefer to sleep with the lights on, you need to block as much light as possible to sleep better. Curtains can help. You can also block more light by putting a sunshade in your windshield.
Additionally, your computer, television and mobile device can also be a source of light. Be sure to switch them off before bedtime. Alternatively, instead of staring at your screen, you may want to consider reading a book. Reading might help you easily fall asleep.
When you are about to sleep, turn off all sources of artificial light as possible. This can include electronic gadgets in your vehicle such as clock, indicator lights, CPAP machines, etc. If it’s difficult to get rid of any of those light sources, consider wearing an eye mask.
Sounds or noise that is insignificant during the day can become bothersome at night. That is especially true when they are abrupt and loud and you are still starting to sleep. Trying to ignore a particular noise will also not help.
There are many potential sources of sleep-stealing noises when you are at a truck stop. This may include engine noises, pulling of air brakes, honking of horns, among others. To reduce your exposure to these noises, try to find a safe place that is away from incoming and outgoing trucks.
Moreover, you have to also get rid of noises that you have control of such as the noise from your radio, mobile device and satellite communications device. Switch them to silent mode (or off) before going to bed.
Just in case everything doesn’t work for you and you can still hear the noise around, you may consider investing in a good pair of ear plugs.
The temperature of your sleeping area also affects your quality of sleep. Studies show that cool temperatures facilitate deep sleep as opposed to warm temperatures. According to WebMD, the ideal temperature to achieve quality sleep is between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too cold or too hot, it will make sleeping difficult.
If you are having difficulty in sleeping, you may consider trying different thermostat settings until you find your comfort level.
If you are using window screens, one drawback is that you have to put up with bad smell such as diesel exhaust from entering your sleeping area. To avoid bad odor that can possibly affect your sleep as well as your health, you could follow these tips:
- Park farther from other vehicles that are idling.
- Don’t park near possible sources of odors such as dumpsters or poorly maintained toilets, especially in the heat of the summer.
- Don’t part near industrial facilities that emit bad odors.
- Keep your vehicle or truck clean as trash can develop bad smell.
If you frequently suffer from lack of sleep on your trips because of bad odor, it’s a good idea to invest in some sort of deodorizer or odor neutralizer that can be triggered either manually or automatically.
Food and Drink
Your choices of food and drink can also affect how well your sleep will be. While the effect of food and drink on your sleep isn’t well understood, researchers have found that highly processed carbohydrates like energy and sugary drinks, noodles and sweets are associated with poor health. On the other hand, consuming high-quality whole grains, vegetables and fish can improve sleep quality.
Many truckers consume drinks that are high in caffeine. And as already known to many, caffeine can make it difficult for you to sleep. That is why it would be good to avoid consuming caffeinated food or drinks a few hours before sleeping.
Also, some truckers feel the need to drink even just a small amount of alcohol before sleeping with the thought that it will help them feel relaxed and fall asleep faster. But what many don’t know is that alcohol inhibits the sleep process, preventing you from getting a deep sleep.
While it’s hard to get a healthy meal while on the road, try to incorporate as much of the following foods and drinks in your diet to help you sleep:
- Whole grains, cereals, brown rice, oats
- Vegetables and fruits
- Food with tryptophan such as poultry and dairy products
- Natural juices
- Plenty of water
Also, reduce your consumption of these items:
- Red meat
- Processed foods
- Energy drinks
- Spicy foods
- Food and drinks with caffeine within 6 to 8 hours before bedtime
If you frequently have trouble sleeping despite trying your best to have the ideal sleeping condition, you may be suffering from a sleeping disorder. There are different types of sleeping disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome, among others. The best thing to do under the situation is to consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor can then help manage your condition so that you can improve your sleeping pattern.
As truckers, while it’s important to reach your destination on time, you should not compromise on having adequate sleep. Sleep is vital to avoid road accidents. It is also important for your overall health.