As an OTR driver, you spend a lot of time on the road. Even though you get to drive to and through a lot of interesting places and meet new people, the route can sometimes feel monotonous. This is especially true if you’re sleepy or fatigued.
Although the hours of service regulations you’re required to follow ensure you have enough time to get enough sleep, it’s not always easy. About one-third of adults in the United States report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep. Not only can this lead to chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and depression, it can also result in the following:
- Impaired reaction time, judgment and vision.
- Problems with information processing and short-term memory.
- Decreased performance, vigilance and motivation.
- Increased moodiness and aggressive behaviors.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 100,000 police-reported crashes annually are the direct result of driver fatigue. This culminates in approximately 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
Maybe too much light in your cab is interrupting your sleep. Perhaps you have trouble falling asleep after a big meal. Possibly it’s too many sounds causing you a fitful night’s rest. Whatever the cause, there are steps you can take to get better sleep in your truck.
Having a comfortable pillow and mattress is essential. If you don’t want to purchase a new mattress, consider a mattress topper. Some of them even come with cooling materials. Other recommendations include:
Keep it Quiet
It’s not always easy to find a quiet place to park when you stop to sleep. If you can, though, try to find a space as far away as possible from other trucks. However, make sure it’s still safe and secure.
Earplugs are a cheap investment for blocking out sound while you sleep. Most phones allow you to set them to ring only when specific contacts call. Another option is buying a noise machine that plays soothing music, nature sounds or white noise.
Lessen the Light
This tip may seem self-explanatory. But, even the smallest amount of light can keep you awake. Think about investing in some curtains or shades to cover the windows of your truck. Put a large sun shade over your windshield. If the light still bothers you, purchase a sleep mask. You can find them at most dollar or discount stores.
Stay Screen-free Before Bedtime
A lot of guidelines recommend turning your screen off at least one hour before you go to bed. They also suggest putting another activity in its place. Ideas include reading a non-digital magazine or listening to music.
Numerous studies have found that the blue light from screens often decreases a person’s ability to sleep restfully. Even watching television close to bedtime can result in disrupted sleep patterns. If you’re set on screen time near bedtime, there are apps you can use to reduce your exposure to blue light.
Pay Attention to the Temperature
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the suggested temperature for your sleeping quarters should be between 60-67º F for optimal sleep. Try to set the temperature in your truck to stay in this range. In warmer temperatures, consider using a small fan for extra airflow. In the winter, use heavier bedding and/or a small heater safe for use in your truck. You may also want to consider engine idling, an auxiliary power unit (APU) or some type of battery-connected heating/cooling unit.
Remember, getting enough sleep before you get back onto the highway in your truck is beneficial for you and those driving near you. It’s just another step in keeping you safe along your journey.
Contact us for information about driving with Dynamic.