We asked some professionals in the trucking industry for tips on how they stay awake on those long and late transports. Here’s what they said:
Do: Stop for a quick nap. Whether you sneak in a quick twenty minute snooze before hitting the road or pull over for an hour to count sheep, quick naps can give you enough rest to power through the next few hours.
Don’t: Fight the fatigue. The NTSB reports 20% of accidents are caused by fatigue. What you lose in time from napping you’ll make up for in safety.
Do: Have some caffeine. Go ahead and stop for a coffee or energy drink. Not only will the caffeine help boost you, but getting out of the truck to walk around the fuel station to shop and the increase in restroom stops will help keep you awake. Sip your drink slow to keep your energy constant.
Don’t: Have too much caffeine. Multiple coffees and energy drinks, especially when mixed with each other, will make you crash hard and fast. Don’t walk out of the station looking like you’re sponsored by Red Bull®.
Do: Pack some healthy snacks. The Vitamin C boost and citrus taste of an orange or tangerine is perfect. Peeling the skin off doubles as a little mental stimulation to keep your mind working. Sunflower seeds, berries, bananas, water and granola bars are easy to pack and will work too.
Don’t: Stop for junk food and fast food. Munching on candy might work short time, but it makes you a ticking, drowsy time bomb. Greasy, salty fast food and sugary sodas won’t help you stay awake while driving either. Stick to the healthy food, then when you safely reach your destination you can reward yourself with a nice burger.
Do: Crack a window or crank the AC. As you’ve probably figured out by now, the colder it is, the harder it is to fall asleep. Point the AC at your face or lower the driver’s window, the air on your face also helps keep you awake.
Don’t: Get comfy. Turn off cruise control, play with seat settings, put the radio on scan and try guessing the songs. Listening to music you can’t stand, or singing along with the music you love is a well-known trick. Tune in to a late night show, listen to an audio book, or call a friend on a hands free device if you know they’re up as well. The trick is to keep your mind working and alert.
At the end of the day, know your limits when driving long hours. No amount of time or money saved from over driving yourself is worth crashing or injuring yourself or others.