Sleeping: An Important Commodity for Drivers

By Eric G. Braun, Senior Writer, US Road Warriors

You’ve been driving longer than you know you should be, your 11 hours isn’t up, but your body clock is telling you enough is enough. You try to push yourself, but you learned in one of my previous articles that caffeine and energy drinks are only a band aid and not reliable.

Couple that with the lack of available parking spaces and your desire to put the financial gain in front of your body’s needs, and before you know it, you end up in a tragedy, wishing you listened to your body when it made its demands.

Being a Professional Driver takes its toll on us. We are constantly on alert, and our minds and brains don’t get a chance to relax. Your subconscious might allow you a brief daydream, but rest assured your conscious mind is evaluating and constantly cross checking data in your brain and planning a strategy to navigate what’s ahead of you. The mind takes as much, if not more, of your strength than you may realize. Hard work does not mean having to sweat every minute of every day.

Staying mentally alert, fighting traffic, and deadlines all lead to stress, which ends up drawing precious resources from your body. We have all been there, we are programmed to push ahead, but listen to your body, when it declares it wants a rest, listen to it, or it will act on its own accord.

A good night’s sleep, proper nutrition and exercise are the keys. Believe it or not, while your sleeping your body is still at work, granted its powered down, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes in your dream. Your body is hard at work when your catching some shut-eye. Its repairing wear and tear on your body from the day’s events, and getting you in shape for the next day.

Some of the signs of lack of sleep are:

·       Slower reactions, a cloudy mind or a bad mood.

·       Weakening of body defenses, including your risk of sickness, infections, high blood pressure and diabetes.

·       Increased appetite, over eating and obesity

·       Telling your husband/wife, you’d love to have his/her mother visit for a week (clear exhaustion at this point obviously)

The witching hours where most drowsy driving accidents occur are:

0400-0600 (This is my hardest time to stay awake, driving or not)

2400 – 0200 – (The bar crowds are headed home; you must be alert on this one.)

1400-1600 (Yup that afternoon, I need some caffeine break)

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you “try” to get 7-9 hours of sleep each day. Now you know what works best for you, some of you night owls love driving at night, less traffic and a more peaceful trip. Just be careful that peaceful doesn’t turn into everlasting peace.

The CDC suggests that you tell your family and friends and your buddy in dispatch that you’re going to sleep and should only interrupt you in case of an emergency.  Let me know how that one works out for you, especially if you have kids.

They also suggest you begin a relaxing routine about an hour before bedtime, taking care of those hygiene and personal needs will help your body understand that sleep is imminent and begin your relaxation process.

Avoid heavy meals, sugar and caffeine before bedtime, they will make it that much harder to get comfortable and stop that mind from racing.

Sweet dreams, oh, and remember no Facebook before bed. We all know that 10 minutes catching up with the world will suck you in to the evil social media vortex for hours, costing you precious sleep time.

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