Adjust Your Body Clock
As a long-haul trucker, it's likely that you will pass through several states and different time zones, which can mess up your body clock and make it more difficult to sleep. Scientists say you should adjust your sleep schedule before a long trip, which will make it easier for you to rest when on the road:
"For three to five days before your trip, shift your bedtime and awakening time either earlier or later each day to help your body's internal clock move closer to your destination's time zone by your day of arrival," says Sleep Foundatio
Remember, not all hotels and motels allow trucks to park on their premises, and those that do might charge you for the privilege. This is why it's a good idea to use a website like Hotels4Truckers.com, where you can find trucker-friendly accommodation and save money on your next trip.
Find Somewhere to Sleep
Depending on your route, you might be able to find a hotel or motel to spend the night. Doing this on a regular basis can be expensive (if your employer won't cover the cost), so keep costs low by booking ahead and searching for the best prices online.
Accommodation ranges in quality when on the road, from super-sleazy motels to upscale hotels. Whichever option you choose, make sure you don't stray too far from your route as this will just add time to your journey.
Sleep in Your Truck
Sometimes, you can't afford to spend the night in a motel or, on long stretches of highway, even find a place to lay your head. If you need to sleep in your truck, follow these tips:
- Be safe. Park your truck in a safe space close to amenities, such as a gas station.
- Block out all light in your vehicle. Cover the windows and windshield and park in a relatively dark (but safe!) area.
- Use earplugs to block out noise from outside.
- Turn off your smartphone and any other electric gadgets. Research shows that the blue light on cell phones and computer screens reduces melatonin production, the hormone that controls sleep.
Sleeping During the Day
If you do decide to sleep in your truck, you might need to sleep during the day. This is either because it's safer to do so or because you've been driving through the night on a job.
Although it can be difficult to sleep in the day, there are some tips you should follow:
- Stay hydrated. Up your water intake before you sleep, especially in hot weather.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants before you sleep if you plan on resting during the day.
- Eat a heavy meal before sleeptime, especially one with lots of carbs, as this can make you more tired.
Oh, and wear dark shades:
"Light has an alerting effect, and it influences your internal clock," says the Sleep Foundation. "Begin to limit your light exposure at the end of your shift to let your body unwind. When you leave work during the day, wear sunglasses on your way home."
Don't Fight It!
Many truckers drive for hours and hours, sometimes without proper sleep. This is extremely dangerous, and there is research to back this up. One study found that driver fatigue and tiredness is the cause of 13 percent of all large truck crashes in the United States.
If you feel tired when driving, find the nearest motel or hotel where you can rest, or at least pull over in a safe spot. Carrying on driving could put your life (and others on the road) at serious risk.
It can be difficult to sleep when on the road but follow the tips above for more rest. Finding good accommodation before you travel will help, but if you need to sleep in your truck, stay safe and hydrated.