A Driver’s Guide to Health: 6 Tips for Creating Good Sleeping Habits for Truck Drivers
It is no secret that good sleep is important to our day-to-day life. For your emotional and physical well-being, optimal brain functioning, daytime performance, and safety of yourself and others around you, regular quality sleep is necessary. It is especially true for commercial truck drivers as they spend an extended period of time on the road.
Here are 6 tips for creating a good sleeping environment for truck drivers. Some of these tips might take more effort than others, but healthy sleeping habits will reward you with improved quality of life as well as safety and efficiency on the job.
Set up the lights appropriately in your sleeper cab as well as your bedroom. When going to bed, try to keep it as dark as possible because melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, is produced when it’s dark. If that’s difficult to achieve, an eye mask can help. In the morning, open the shades to expose yourself to sunshine to help your body wake up and adjust to a regular sleep pattern.
Whether you are sleeping in your sleeper cab or your bedroom, try to set a quiet environment. Use earplugs if necessary. Even if noise doesn’t completely wake you, it can be affecting your sleep cycles. A white noise machine or mobile phone app can improve your sleep by producing consistent and gentle background noise that blocks out environmental noise that can disturb your sleep.
If you are a long-haul driver, it is important to make the bed in your cab as comfortable as possible. Prepare bedding that can keep you warm and comfortable. Pillows should have the right softness and thickness for the health of your neck, back, and shoulders. You can consider adding foam bed topper for extra comfort. At home, make sure you have a comfortable and supportive mattress that works well for your body, especially if you have back pain or joint issues. It shouldn’t be too hard or too soft.
Turn off the TV and put down your smartphones or tablets about a few hours before going to sleep. The blue light that’s emitted from the screens of these electronic devices delay the release of melatonin and affect the internal clock of your body. Instead of using electronic devices, look for different bedtime routines such as meditation, reading, journaling, listening to calm music, etc.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine well before your bedtime. These stimulants may not only keep you from falling asleep but also disturb the quality of your sleep after you’ve fallen asleep. Food and drinks that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates should also be avoided before bed. Instead, choose a snack with protein and healthy fats.
Get checked out and treated for sleep apnea. “Apnea” means “without breath” in Greek. Sleep apnea is a common and potentially serious sleep disorder that causes involuntary interruption of breathing in one’s sleep. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems. It is often difficult to self-diagnose it, so it is recommended that you work with a specialist. Symptoms can include extremely loud snoring, persistent drowsiness during the day, instances of waking up out of breath during the night, and often waking up in the morning with a dry mouth or a headache.