Best Sleeping Practices for Truckers Pt. 1: The Why
We will discuss the difficulties of getting good sleep on the road and what you can do to fix it.
However, you might already be scoffing at the idea. You might believe that you get more than enough sleep already. How many times have you said or have heard someone say, “Oh, I only need 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night.”
If you are not part of the 2% of the population that are “Short Sleepers” that require only a few hours of sleep a night, then you are wrong. You need seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
There is also quantifiable data from the FMCSA that proves that 12% of all crashes that involve at least one large commercial truck can be tied directly to Driver drowsiness or falling asleep at the wheel. Many other factors that lead to severe crashes can be linked in some way to being drowsy or fatigued.
That translates to 9,000 crashes over a three-year period. That is just a little over eight crashes a day caused by improper sleep. Crashes like these that result in people dying.
Without a doubt, proper sleep is vital when it comes to working as a safe and Professional Truck Driver.
As a Truck Driver, you have several factors working against getting good sleep. You have inconsistent pick-up and delivery times. You must work within your HOS. Also, as an OTR Driver with no dedicated routes, you might have to find a different place to sleep every night.
We also cannot afford to forget the most challenging issue that gets in the way of sleep, and that is being able to find safe parking regularly.
That is not even mentioning everything that can disrupt your sleep, such as random inspections, the loud noises of being parked near a highway or a busy fuel stop.
Even with all those obstacles in the way you might think to yourself, “I can live off of 4 or 5 hours of sleep, then catch up during a 34.” You would only be half right.
While catching up on some sleep during the weekend or a 34 will fix some daytime sleepiness, it will not rebound your cognitive performance. No matter how much sleep you try to catch up on, your reaction time will continue to be significantly delayed until you have a consistent sleep schedule.
Understanding the need for sleep is only the first part of the process. Getting enough sleep is about more than just sleeping between 7 and 9 hours. Getting good sleep is about two important factors:
Consistency means getting those vital 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. It also means falling into certain patterns that help your body understand that it is time to go to sleep.
Energizing Sleep has to do with the quality of sleep you create for yourself. It means making sure that you do not have the television on while you sleep and that you are doing the most that can be done to minimize light in your sleeper cab.
And next week we shall discuss some of the most successful strategies to giving yourself the most consistent and energizing sleep possible.
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