Sleep Deprivation, An Epidemic In Trucker’s Life

My friend Steve loves to work and live for his work. He adores long hours on roads, an integral part of his job. Recently they had an official meet up at American Trucking Association. There was a discussion regarding different aspects of trucker’s life and possibilities. There most of the truckers come up with one concern that is sleep deprivation. My friend also had some sort of concern for the same but he didn’t care much, as his love and passion for his work surpass his drudgery. Authorities of ATA state that lack of sleep is a common phenomenon in the trucking industry, that’s the reality. Unfortunately, they have to accept that. Long roads, many miles, and sleepless nights are parts of their life. It’s better if a person knows this beforehand they enter into trucking industry.

If a person is already insomniac and prone to be depressive, it will be better for his mental health to think twice before landing into this industry. Sleep deprivation triggers insomnia and depression, which are wide array of challenges to one’s mental health. Irregular lifestyle and self-isolation intensify that.

My friend Steve was well aware of the break they get, that heard 10-hour break is the break they get for a day, though this time period is not consistent all the time. Sometimes, it is less than 10 hours. These hours do not mean for sleeping only, it includes bath time, mealtime, restroom time, and me time. Rest, you can guess their sleeping hours. My friend once explained, he takes rest at any stopover, or sometimes at midnight when he feels sleepy, he parks his car at nearby rest area and takes short nap for one hour or two.  These odd hours and irregular schedules disrupt the sleeping pattern.

Inconsistent Work Hours

Trucker’s sleep patterns depend on their work patterns.  Sleep pattern is inconsistent because work patter is not regular. As a result, many truckers suffer from Sleep Apnea.

Different trucking has different working hours. Such as “Southeast Regional Division” or “Midwest Regional” and Over the Road driving differ on the availability of sleep schedules. As my friend, Steve works for a long-haul truck that includes long work hours, irregular work schedules. The consequences are inconsistent hours of sleep, short sleep duration, and disrupted sleep patterns.  Working hours of some trucking companies (such as a refrigerated container or reefer) differ from that of a long haul truck and has more downtime available for their truckers.

Sometimes negotiation between customers and trucking companies eases trucker’s sleep schedules. In some cases, customers don’t want their truck drivers to drive all night and stay awake but that is an exception. Tight deadlines can mean more hours behind the wheel with fewer opportunities to rest, and drivers are only paid when the wheels are rolling. My friend was quite happy with this lifestyle. But people who want a balance of sleep and work, this life is certainly unpredictable for them.

Utilize Break Time And Take Short Naps

Less sleep squeezes every ounce of energy out of truckers. When someone is new, it will be quite exhausting for him, but slowly the biological clock gets adjusted to the new schedules. Night drive can be monotonous and you often feel sleepy. To keep situational awareness you should take frequent breaks and try to take short naps whenever feels sleepy. My friend often utilizes this trick.

Unfortunately, you can’t change working hours in trucking life. But you can make certain lifestyle changes. Though hectic schedules don’t allow many changes, but making little positive changes go long way. Truckers can change their food habits; they can eliminate carbs, sugar from their diet, and can intake leafy veggies, lean protein, and dietary fibers to improve sleep. Light walk or exercise will be an added step towards better sleep.

Sometimes during your downtime on sleeper berth, try to take a short nap. My friend shared his experience with me. He puts earplugs on to reduce the outside noise of other vehicles and put an eye mask to feel a sleepy ambiance that facilitates his sleep.  You can try this too. Good suggestions indeed.

It all depends on your body and when it feels the urge to sleep. Sometimes after a small snack break at midnight when you drive, your mind becomes active and you don’t feel sleepy. When driving at a stretch in morning you might feel sleepy after 10 am. It all about how your body and mind react while behind wheels. The bottom line is taking short naps when it feels exhausting and sleepy.

Trucking industry is very unpredictable. You have same loads of works but working hours may vary, hence sleep pattern is affected. Still, it’s all about you. My friend, Steve loves his work no matter what. He hardly has had any complaints. Unlike him, your body and mind may not allow you to take this lifestyle. Beyond everything, good health and an active mind are things over which a healthy life can build up.  No one but you can be your best guide, ask yourself is this trucking industry suitable for you? Are you getting enough sleep and rest that your body and mind need? If the answer is yes, you can easily get adjusted to this lifestyle as my friend, Steve. If the answer is no, please move on.

Whatever you are doing in your life, your willingness matters.  You should know where to stop and move on.