One of the most dangerous things for any driver to do, let alone someone who's behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, is operate a vehicle while growing increasingly fatigued. Studies have shown that drowsy driving can, in many cases, be just as dangerous as drunk driving, so avoiding this kind of behavior is absolutely necessary.
So how can you avoid getting sleepy while you're driving thousands of miles across the nation's highways and byways? Here are some great ideas:
1) Hit the road early
It's all perfectly natural: The longer you've been awake, the more fatigued you'll feel, according to Nectar. For that reason, the simplest fix is to get a head start on the day, waking up nice and early, hitting the road quickly and driving primarily in the morning and afternoon, not at night. As an added bonus, you'll be able to put some miles on your truck before you hit that morning rush hour traffic.
2) Stay hydrated
You might think that drinking lots of caffeinated beverages is the best way to shake out the cobwebs in the morning, but drinking plenty of water can be just as effective - and set you up for more success throughout the day, Nectar said. Why? Water helps make sure every aspect of your bodily function is working effectively, and you may be surprised to learn that most people just don't drink as much of it as they should. Invest in a refillable bottle and make sure you're always topped off.
3) Try to get to sleep on a schedule
If you go to bed at 10 p.m. one day, 2 a.m. the next and midnight the one after that, it's hard for your body to get into a good natural rhythm, according to DriveCo. However, that kind of reliable sleep schedule is critical to avoiding drowsiness when you need to be driving, so it's important to make this a goal every day.
4) Don't load up on food
You might go several hours or more between meals, and be starving when you pull into that next truck stop, but having a big meal all at once is not advisable, DriveCo advised. It takes a lot of work for your body to process heavy, fatty foods and, just like that big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, that will tucker you out fast. Instead, you should strive for light meals supplemented with healthy snacks throughout the day.
5) Don't be afraid to nap
When you find that you are getting tired, especially in the middle of the day, it's not always wise to try to shake off that feeling, according to Semi Truck Driver. Instead, you might be better off indulging the feeling and taking a break for even a half-hour power nap. The benefits can be substantial.
6) Talk to a doctor
Finally, if you find you're consistently running into drowsiness a few times a week or more, there might be more to it than just not getting enough sleep, Semi Truck Driver noted. You should talk to your doctor to see if a mix of medications or other factors might be contributing to this issue.
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