Strategies for Better Sleep on the Road
Sometimes on a haul, sleep seems like one of your last priorities. But sleep shouldn’t only be a luxury. Not only does your health require that you get adequate sleep—the law does too. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) prohibit operators to drive while fatigued and forbid carriers from allowing fatigued operators to drive.
But some operators feel the need to drive while tired because they don’t have time to waste. In this blog, we give you some strategies to use so you can sleep better even when you can’t sleep longer.
1. Avoid Disruptive Noises
Even if you can fall asleep surrounded by noise, you should avoid it if possible. Noise can make it harder to fall asleep, and it keeps your sleep shallow. If you cannot find a perfectly quiet spot to park, try these methods:
- Play relaxing music, nature sounds, or white noise
- Put a noise-cancelling curtain between your sleeper berth and the rest of the cab
- Use earplugs
2. Avoid Movement or Vibration
Whenever you can, avoid idling as you sleep. This creates continuous vibration, which can prevent you from falling in to a restful sleep. If you must idle, adjust your truck’s RPMs to decrease the vibration.
When you stop to sleep, park away from busy freeways and highways to avoid the vibration from passing cars.
3. Block as Much Light as Possible
The human body associates light, even artificial light, with daytime. Avoid exposure to bright lights right before you sleep, including your cell phone, a television, or a computer. Cover any sources of light, like clocks, unless those lights have a blue color. Warm-colored lights stimulate the mind and can hinder relaxation.
Consider installing blackout curtains in your cab or purchasing an eye mask. These measures can block out most, if not all, ambient light.
4. Control the Temperature of Your Cab
Extreme temperatures can disrupt your sleep. For some people, a change in temperature can even wake them up completely. Many people find it easier to sleep in a slightly cool environment—sleep specialists report that most people sleep best in temperatures from 60℉ to 68℉. Keep your cab a temperature you find comfortable.
5. Create a Routine
When your body falls into a predictable sleep pattern, you experience deeper, more restorative sleep. You may not be able to stop and sleep at the same time each day, but you can do other things to create a routine, including:
- Avoid stimulants before sleeping. It’s important that you stay awake while driving, but it’s just as important that you fall asleep when you need sleep. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, spicy foods, and excess liquids within 2 to 3 hours of a planned sleep break.
- Perform the same tasks before sleeping. Plan a routine you can perform within an hour of sleeping. This may include washing up, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes.
- Sleep for about the same amount of time each day. Sleep experts recommend shooting for 7 to 9 hours.
6. Stay Comfortable
It may seem like the sleeping accommodations in your truck don’t qualify as essential equipment. But staying comfortable helps sleepers wind down more quickly and sleep deeper. Invest in a mattress topper, comfortable pillow, and decent blanket set for your truck.
It may take some time to settle into a deeper sleep schedule. If you still have difficulty getting high-quality sleep while on the road, consider reaching out to your doctor or a sleep specialist. They can help you determine if you suffer from a sleep disorder.
As you haul, keep these strategies in mind to ensure that you remain alert, responsive, and healthy.
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