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Don't drive sleepy: How to stay awake on the road

10/27/2017

Be sure to get your eight hours of sleep to function optimally on the road.

Truck drivers spend immense amounts of time on the road, and up to 11 hours a day driving at times. While there are many benefits to this work - the opportunity to travel, for one - it can be extremely mentally taxing. Driving requires a great deal of concentration and skill, especially if one is operating a large, heavy vehicle.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, some individuals have trouble determining how tired they actually are, and will ignore so-called warning signs of excessive sleepiness. Experiencing heavy eyelids, having wandering or disconnected thoughts, and forgetting where you are can be signs that you need to pull off the road. If your vehicle starts to drift and you find yourself hitting the rumble strips, in addition to feeling more irritable and restless, chances are you need a break from driving. The source added that 60 percent of Americans have driven while feeling tired and 37 percent have fallen asleep on the road, according to its Sleep in America poll. Because truck drivers rely on their skills and safety records for their livelihood, it is important for them to get sufficient rest and operate their rigs at the best of their ability.

Sneak in catnaps
It is important to try and squeeze in physical activity when possible to stay healthy. Yet it is equally advised to sleep when you have a bit of extra time. Adults should aim for seven or more hours of sleep each night, but if this is not possible due to specific routes and deadlines, you can take naps when you stop to break. The Truckers Report said that even 20 minutes of sleep can help you feel refreshed. So if you know that you didn't get enough sleep the night before, pass up a quick workout or some social time to grab a nap. You may prevent an accident.

Eat for energy
Treating yourself to fast food once in a while is perfectly permissible. Relying upon sugar, fat and the simple carbohydrates in these meals, however, is not the best of ideas. The Truckers Report added that you should eat a balanced diet with more protein than carbs, and you should keep the sugar at a minimum. While that burst of energy feels great, the ensuing crash may make you feel more tired than you were before your saccharine-fest, so eat wisely and save the burgers and fries for when you know you'll get a good night's rest.

When if doubt, have a coffee
When there is no time to really stop and nap, a coffee can give you the necessary boost to make it to your destination safely and in an alert fashion. Filling your cup of Joe with too much sugar and heavy creamer isn't going to do you or your waistline and favors, so try and keep your coffee black, if possible. Caffeinated sodas are not the best option to choose, but if you must have your bubbles, be sure to stick to diet beverages.

Getting enough sleep is tough for most people, but it is essential that drivers find a way to work adequate rest into their schedules. If you have to try different ways to sleep, experiment until you find a solution that enables you to sleep and work as safely as possible.

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