Let’s face it: for truckers, getting a good night’s sleep on the road can be a challenge. Sleep is important for your health and safety as a driver – but most long-haul truckers don’t get enough of it.
Whether you’re new to the road, your sleeping habits have changed, or you’ve always had trouble getting the recommended eight hours of zzz’s, here are five tips on how to get a good night’s sleep in the cab.
1. Find a safe, quiet place to park. Yes, that’s often easier said than done! We all know that delays and unexpected stops happen, but plan ahead when you’re considering where to park for the night. Give your rig some distance from others, if possible.
Even if your parking plans don’t work out, on the nights they do, you’ll sleep better for it.
2. Block out noise and light. Our bodies naturally want to stay awake when it’s light outside and sleep when it’s dark. Close your curtains and truck shades and put a sunshade cover on your windshield. If that all sounds like too much hassle, invest in a simple sleeping mask that blocks out all light. If you haven’t used one of these before, trust us: it’s a game-changer, especially if you drive at night and sleep during the day.
Noise can also be distracting and intrusive, and it’s a constant when you’re on the road. Get yourself a supply of good foam earplugs. They aren’t expensive and they make a world of difference.
3. Avoid caffeine at least six hours before you plan to sleep. Caffeine is great for keeping us awake – even when we don’t want to be! Caffeine is absorbed rapidly in our guts and intestines, which is why so many of us rely on it for a quick hit to stay alert.
But too much caffeine – especially before bed – can interfere with our natural sleep cycles. That can make it harder to get to sleep and even tougher to get up in the morning. Give your body a break before bed and lay off the caffeine well ahead of time.
4. Say no to evening screentime. Stop viewing all screens – yes, even the one on your phone! – at least 30 minutes before you head to bed. If you’re looking for other things to do while you fall asleep, listen to an audiobook or your favorite podcast.
For those who absolutely can’t bear the idea of unplugging before bed, at least turn on your phone’s blue light blocker, which you should be able to find in the screen settings. To the sensors in our eyes, blue light signals that it’s daytime, which can trick our bodies into thinking it’s time to be awake. Blocking blue light so your eyes are exposed to warm red tones prompts your body to release melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep.
5. Create a bedtime routine. Put all of these suggestions together, and you have a list of bedtime habits that you can make into a routine. Sticking to a sleeping routine can signal your body that it’s time to power down as soon as you start the first part of the habit.
So if you close up your shades, get into your bunk, put on your sleeping mask, and turn on your podcast, your body starts to associate the first action – closing your shades – with sleep. By the time you hit the mattress, your body is already halfway to dreamland.
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