Every trucker has been there: You're exhausted, you're running on very little sleep, and you're only a few hours away from your destination. However, you should also know that continuing to drive when you're fatigued and drowsy is quite dangerous, so you need to pull over and get to the root problem of driver fatigue.
There are many factors that contribute to this problem, and the following solutions could help you address them:
1) Don't load up at dinner time
When you eat a big, heavy meal - especially one packed with fried foods - your body has to work overtime to process it all, according to Gorilla Safety. That, in turn, can make you sleepier, and put you at risk for becoming drowsy behind the wheel. Instead, try smaller meals and healthy snacking throughout the day.
2) Get plenty of exercise
While a driver's life isn't always particularly flexible, you should be able to find 30 minutes per day to do some kind of exercise, Gorilla Safety noted. This can help activate more aspects of a healthy body and give you the chance to get a good night's sleep more consistently.
3) Don't drink coffee in the afternoon
Everyone has experienced that classic sugar or caffeine crash late in the day, but the way to counteract it is not by having more coffee, according to Smart Trucking. Ideally, you won't make caffeine a part of your daily routine in the first place, but doubling down in the afternoon just pushes your crash back a few hours and also makes it more difficult to get to sleep.
4) Maintain a healthy weight
Unhealthy weights are another big contributor to difficulty getting to sleep and staying that way, Smart Trucking advised. For that reason, working with a doctor to find a diet and exercise regimen that enables you to slim down is a good idea, as it will help you avoid problems like sleep apnea, as well as general aches, pains and discomfort.
5) Open the windows
Some fresh air can go a long way toward helping you wake up a bit if you need a little extra "something" to get you to the next place where you can safely pull over, according to The Truckers Report. This is a simple trick, but it's one that works quite well.
6) Stay hydrated
Another great way to wake yourself up naturally in the morning and help your body function well throughout the day is to stay hydrated, The Truckers Report added. Drinking water - and even seltzer - is always preferable to sugary drinks, coffee and the like.
7) Get plenty of sleep
Finally, because many of the above tips are helpful when it comes to actually getting more sleep, you need to make getting the full eight hours a priority, The Truckers Report said. That means scheduling your drives so you know you'll have that much time for slumber every single night, and never compromising when it comes to giving yourself that time.
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