Sleep Discussion for Truck Drivers
One of my goals in starting this blog was to discuss things that are important to me as a truck driver. Sleep is one of those topics that I already had the idea that I would like to cover. I have been employed in many different industries over the years including the computer field, retail, warehousing and obviously I’m an active truck driver. Honestly, unless you have a 9 to 5 job, you have probably had to work swing shifts or graveyard shifts and have really messed up your sleep schedule. As a truck driver your sleep schedule is always changing unless you have a dedicated run that rolls out at the same time and even then you may be working graveyards or swings. I would venture to say that sleep is probably the single most important activity that we do other than driving. With that being said, I would like to discuss the mental and physiological problems associated with the loss of sleep. I would also like to propose some changes to our habits as drivers that may possibly help with getting more sleep. And lastly, I would like to let you in on my little secret that I have found that has helped me tremendously in the pursuit of good sleep. So keep your eyes peeled because this article is not meant to put you to sleep.
Obviously we all know that being tired is the first huge problem associated with the lack of sleep. But, did you know that the chronic lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, weight gain and heart attacks? I personally think that our job as a truck driver is dangerous enough without putting ourselves at risk for any of these health issues. If you have been struggling with any of these physical ailments, the cure or the path to the cure may be as easy as putting your head on your pillow sooner and more often. Some of the other problems we would like to discuss are the mental issues associated with loss of sleep. They say that driving in a seriously drowsy state is just as dangerous as driving drunk. The studies have shown that some of the same issues apply to a person that has a chronic loss of sleep. These issues include impairment of judgment, forgetfulness and depression. We all know that sleep causes accidents and slows your ability to react in quickly evolving situations. So, the next time you see that sign that says “drowsy drivers use next exit”, please be honest with yourself and make sure that you are doing the right thing for you and all of the other people on the road.
In reality, truck driver rules and regulations are in place to try to help us to get good amounts of sleep. In fact they just implemented a new rule that if used correctly, all but ensures that we get some extra sleep on our 34 hour restarts. Now we all have our gripes with the rules but, I honestly can’t and don’t want to argue with a rule that tells me that I have to sleep. Believe me I’m all about making money out on the road but, if you don’t get enough sleep and can’t drive because you have a serious health issue or get in an accident due to lack of sleep you aren’t going to be making any money regardless. So, let’s discuss some strategies we can employ in our quest to getting more sleep. You can use your 30 minute break to grab your shower so that when you stop for the day you can get right to the business of sleep. Try to drive around the same times and try to have a two to three hour window where you try to go down to sleep. Trying to keep on a schedule can go a long ways to regulating your sleep. If you are having serious issues getting to sleep or staying asleep, see a doctor. Plan your trips correctly and give yourself time for cat naps along the way. We never know what to expect out there on the road but, if things go smoothly you should have a few extra hours along the way to catch a cat nap if you need it.
Now that we have discussed the problems and some of the strategies to help you get some sleep. Let’s talk about a natural solution that you can use to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Honestly, you may have heard of melatonin before but, did you know that it is one of the best ways to help treat chronic sleep disorders? I found out about melatonin about two years ago when I was having tremendous difficulty in getting to sleep and staying asleep. My problem stemmed from going to the gym later at night and depleting my natural melatonin supply. Yes, we already create and have melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone that is created in the pineal gland in the brain, it is used to control your internal sleep clock. Basically, when it gets dark outside it kicks into gear creating melatonin for you so that you can get tired, then as you get through the night it depletes and you wake up all ready to go. Now you must be wondering if I work for a prescription drug company and I am advertising. The answer is no, which is good because you can buy melatonin over the counter at basically any regular retail store. I haven’t checked for it in truck stops and I do not recall seeing it. Remember, to always use prescriptions and supplements as directed, if you aren’t sure check with your physician.
So I’ve let you in on my little secret to sleep, hopefully it helps you in your sleep endeavor. If you would like more information about melatonin you can check it out here http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tc/melatonin-overview. Always remember that the best thing you can do to get that load to its destination or to help your company is to take care of yourself. Do the right things to keep yourself on the long road to success. If you feel that you have a problem with your sleep go see a doctor right away so that you do not have any lost lasting complications. As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns don’t be afraid to click the “comment” button and send em over. I have enjoyed writing this article on sleep and I hope that it helps several of my truck driving friends to get better sleep and as always be safe out there!