You’ve been assigned a long-haul job. It’s great, of course, because you can expect a hefty pay. But you also know that with greater pay comes greater responsibility. Well, you get the drift. You’re a truck driver who will be driving thousands of miles for hours and hours. And aside from everything else you’ll have to deal with on the road, one of the most critical challenges you have to fight off is the tendency to get sleepy. Especially when it isn’t time get some zzzzs yet.
Here are some easy tips to help you stay awake so you can finish that long-haul job without any unpleasant incidents — just pure trouble-free driving.
Before the drive…
Prepare for your long trip;
To begin with, get a good night’s sleep. And if you’re leaving in the middle of the day, you can try sneaking in a cat-nap immediately before you get on the road. Based on some studies done, a short nap, even one that’s as short as 20 or 30 minutes, can give you enough rest to help you stay alert and awake longer through the night.
Aside from sleep and rest, make sure you eat a healthy meal before leaving. Let us repeat that — healthy food, not fast food. Best advice is to eat whole grains, lean meat, vegetables and fruits — the stuff the food pyramid says is good for you. If you’re into taking vitamins, don’t forget to take the ones that help with energy giving, specifically, vitamin Bs and C.
During the drive…
Alternately turn the radio off and on;
Radio sounds — whether it’s music, news, conversation on talk shows, or maybe even chatter on your CB — can be entertaining and at the same time exhausting because your mind can’t help itself from processing all those sounds that you’re hearing. The more you try to process, the more tired you’ll get. To help avoid this, try turning your radio off for a little while and just listen to the sound of your engine running and your wheels turning. It’s sure to relax you. But then don’t get too relaxed because that’s what the repetitive sound can do. After some time, when you feel like you’re about to enter into a trance-like state from listening to the same sound over and over, turn your radio back on to wake yourself up.
Control your appetite:
Remember how sleepy you felt after that hearty Thanksgiving meal? Then you should already know that gobbling everything up and ending up with a full belly is sure to make you sleepy. So when you are driving, instead of eating large meals, try breaking it up into smaller meals, with a few properly timed light snacks in-between. Try to limit your snacks to protein-packed foods as these can provide you with the energy boost you need. Don’t binge on sweet and sugary foods that can boost your energy quickly, then drain your energy just as quickly when the effect of the sugar rush wears off.
Drink just enough to stay hydrated. But know that you shouldn’t overdo it, unless you want to make a stop every 5 minutes to pee. And just go for water. Caffeine and sugary drinks are quite tempting, but they won’t help at all in keeping you awake, and can even contribute to the need to go to a restroom more often.
Drive in the cold;
It’s hard to sleep when it’s so cold. So to keep yourself awake, don’t make your cab get too comfortable by keeping it warm and inducing a relaxing atmosphere. Instead, turn the temperature a little lower so you’ll feel a little chilly and slightly uncomfortable, just enough to help you fight off sleepiness.
Avoid high contrast lights;
Extreme contrast between your bright dashboard lights and your pitch black surroundings can have a tiring effect on your eyes because you’ll keep on trying to adjust to the contrasting conditions. To avoid this strain, try dimming your dashboard lights. Keep it at a level that’s just bright enough to let you see your gauges clearly. Also, do your best not to look directly at oncoming headlights, rather, look to the side.
Take breaks when you need to;
It’s understandable that you want to make it to your destination within the shortest time possible. But pushing it too far can have disastrous effects. Your body will tell you when you need a break, and when it does, you should listen. Stop at a rest room, take a 5-10 minute walk, or catch a short nap. A short break in whatever form can be a powerful energy booster.
The ultimate takeaway;
While there is absolutely no substitute for sleep, with the tips we gave, you will at least be able to stay awake as long as you can, and you’ll be doing it the natural way. But when it’s time to sleep, it’s time to sleep and there is no getting around it.