Lack of a good night’s sleep is an almost epidemic problem in America!
While many of us experience the occasional effects of too little sleep, it’s a much larger problem than many realize. Health officials state that 70 million people in the United States suffer from persistent sleep problems. Of those, 60 percent suffer from chronic illnesses as a result of this sleep deprivation. Too little sleep affects our ability to focus, our mood, and even our motor skills. Inadequate amounts of sleep over a prolonged time can contribute to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, mood disorders and even shortened life expectancy.
The statistics related to the effects of trucker sleep deprivation are alarming!
In the trucking industry, particularly with long-haul drivers, getting adequate sleep has been a persistent, longtime issue. It’s a real challenge and poses a serious danger.
It is estimated that about 30 to 40 percent of all heavy truck crashes are caused by sleep deprivation. Recent changes in HOS rules have not improved those numbers. According to a recent survey by the American Transportation Research Institute, 66% of drivers indicate increased fatigue while driving as a direct result of those new rules! The reality is that noisy truck stops, uncomfortable mattresses, irregular sleep times combined with unhealthy eating habits all contribute to a “perfect storm” to prevent good sleep.
“What Can truckers Do To Get Better Sleep,” you ask?
While there is no magic bullet solution that’s going to solve everyone’s sleep issues, we offer these driver suggestions to help improve the quality and amount of sleep:
- Take a look at that mattress
Bad mattresses are the number one complaint of drivers. That’s understandable. A good mattress is a key to getting good sleep. Your mattress should be made of 3-6 inches of memory foam. If your mattress isn’t high-quality, consider purchasing one. Perhaps your trucking company can purchase one for you or assist you in the purchase.
- Exercise helps
The sedentary occupation of truckers makes it hard to add more movement into the schedule. But the more you move and exercise, the better sleep you will get. Find time to stretch several times daily. Squat up and down multiple times and add short walks throughout the day.
- Limit caffeine intake
If possible, limit (or eliminate altogether) coffee… and Mountain Dew! Caffeine inhibits the production of melatonin, which is needed for that deeper, more restorative sleep associated with a full night’s rest.
- The right music can help
Listening to relaxing music, such as delta waves binaural sleep meditation, can be magical. They have a frequency that helps the brain reach and stay in a deeper state of sleep.
- Get checked out for sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is real and affects an estimated 28% of truck drivers. If you are overweight and have a neck size over 17 inches (16 inches for women) you’re at high risk. Particularly if you also snore and smoke. Consult a doctor and get tested. A CPAP machine can treat apnea and drastically improve the quality of sleep you get.
At DriverSource, driver safety will always be our number one priority. We recognize the importance of providing dedicated or casual driver schedule opportunities that allow for adequate sleep. And, of course, we back it up with an industry-leading benefits package.
Bill D for DriverSource