Long-haul truck drivers sometimes find it challenging to stay awake. After 20 or 30 miles of feeling the road vibration and the monotonous lullaby of humming tires can make even the most seasoned drivers wanting a nap. Have you experienced that in your career? We have gathered some of the best tips from longtime drivers to help you stay awake on your next long haul.
Ideally, seven to eight hours of sleep before you head out will help you stay awake while on the road. Beginning the journey well-rested and ready to work is the best advice we can give you. This is not always possible, so what can be done if a good night’s sleep was not possible before heading out on the road. Here are some tips for America’s truck drivers to stay awake while driving the endless highways.
- Take a pre-haul nap.
Make sure to take a short nap before you head out for the long haul. A 20-minute power nap can help make up for a short night’s sleep. Keep in mind a short nap doesn’t make up for all of the loss of sleep. A power nap can help your body recoup a little energy until it is time for a good night’s rest.
- Take a mid-haul nap.
If you are fighting to stay awake as you drive America’s roadways, it is best not to try to push through. Give yourself a deserved and needed break. Go ahead and pull over to take a short 20-minute nap. As you are choosing your needed rest location, it is important to look at the surroundings. Choose a safe location to take your little siesta. Set the alarm for 20-minutes. After waking up, then give yourself another 15 minutes to let your brain get moving again. If possible, you can take a little walk around your truck and stretch your muscles a bit. Then when you feel you are alert and ready, go ahead and start trucking down the road to your destination.
- Drive with a partner.
Partners make long hauls a breeze. Teamwork is a great way to drive America’s roadways. You and your driving comrade can pull over every few hours and trade drivers. Another benefit to a travel buddy is there is someone to talk to, sing to the radio with, and have great conversations with as you are trucking America’s beautiful highways.
- Do not push the limits.
Feeling rushed or in a hurry to get to the destination creates more adrenaline and cortisol. While there may be an initial rush of energy to keep you awake, in the long run, it takes a lot of energy for your body to get rid of the extra cortisol or adrenaline. Driving at a safe and reasonable pace as you are driving the long haul is the best choice for the safety of yourself and America. Slow and steady will get you to your destination.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
Alcohol makes a person tired, even in small doses. Not only does it make you tired. It also can impair your driving. Even a little bit of alcohol is too much.
- Try to schedule driving times that are best for your body.
Driving between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., you may find yourself more drowsy than other times of the day or night. The reason is because of your body’s biological rhythm. Your body is scheduled to do repair and cleaning of your major organs such as the liver, digestive system, and other organs during this time. This is a time when sleepiness is most intense because your body needs it’s cleaning and recovery time. So give your body a break during these hours, if at all possible.
- Try drinking some caffeine.
Caffeine can improve alertness. It is important not to drink caffeine too much because it can lose its power to wake you up over time. If you drink it too often, your body can just become addicted, and then the caffeine will have little or no effect on keeping you awake. Remember, caffeine is the last resort to fighting boredom and staying awake on the road.
- Turn up the volume.
Turn the radio on and sing with it. It is tough to sleep while you are singing. Singing to an upbeat and lively song can help the mind and body to stay awake.
- Bring in the oxygen.
Oxygen is good for the body, brain, and soul. Are you feeling tired? Crack the window open and welcome the oxygen into your cab. It will be a breath of fresh air that fights the brain and body from dozing off.
- Snack it up.
Snacks can help fight boredom and sleepiness. Choosing snacks that fuel the body are the best for longevity. Eating snacks that are about 100 calories give your body fuel without creating a sugar crash. What are some snacks that you can snack on while driving down the road? Crunchy snacks like carrots, fruit, baked chips, lentil chips, celery with peanut butter, and trail mix are some good choices. Snacks that have a combination of sweet and salty or sweet and spicy to wake up the taste buds are also good choices. What about flavored popcorn? Try that on your next long-haul.
- Don’t forget your vitamins.
Talk with your doctor about taking some vitamins to help keep you awake. Vitamins B and C are known to give the body energy. Vitamins help the body run more smoothly, so then it has more energy to perform better and longer. So talk with your doctor about what vitamins would help your body go the long-haul.
- Keep the truck cab cold.
A toasty and cozy cab makes the mind and body want to sleep. Keep the cab cold and ice in your cup to crunch on. This will help you avoid nodding off and fight boredom.
Now that we have discussed tips to overcome sleepiness and boredom. Let’s look at a few warning signs that you are falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Having a hard time focusing on the road.
- Blurry vision and watering eyes.
- You are having a hard time keeping your head up and eyes open.
- Constantly yawning and wiggling in your seat to stay awake.
- Your head is nodding, and you have changed lanes without knowing it.
- Missing traffic signs and traffic signals.
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles.
- You are drifting from your lane.
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Watch for the signs and prevent drowsy driving. Do not wait until it’s too late if you see any signs of drowsy driving or are experiencing boredom during your long-haul. Take a few minutes for yourself because you deserve it! We appreciate the job you do, transporting America’s goods all over the country.