It’s no easy task. Long hauls can keep you on the road for hours, and especially when combined with an irregular sleep schedule, it’s easy to get tired. Unfortunately, most payment arrangements encourage drivers to stay on the road longer. This can lead to unsafe fatigue. It’s important to balance time on the road with rest while you’re on long hauls. Make sure that you fit in some sleep, and use the following tips for staying awake and alert on long hauls. That way, you can reach your destination safely.
Both before you hit the road and when you make a pit stop, make an effort to eat healthily. We know it’s easy to grab some fast food, but you may be kicking yourself for it once you’re back on the road. Fat and sugar can give you a temporary boost, but once your body has processed them, they’ll leave you feeling more tired than before. While you’re on long hauls, opt for meals that have lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Chicken, fish, whole grains, and vegetables are all good choices. The same rule holds for snacks. Instead of sugary candy, try a piece of fruit or some nuts. These snacks will help to keep you awake without causing a later energy crash.
We’ve all opted for a cup of coffee or an energy drink from time to time to get us through a slump. Be careful though; just like sugar, caffeine will give you a temporary boost and then leave you feeling tired again. To avoid a major crash, keep your caffeine levels low.
Sometimes a short walk outside can wake you up as much as a cup of coffee, without any negative side effects. When you pull into a truck stop, take just 5 or 10 minutes to walk around and stretch out your legs. You’ll get your blood circulating and will feel more awake in no time at all.
If you’re starting to feel sleepy, try cooling down the temperature in the cab. A blast of A/C will make you feel chilly, but it will also keep you more awake. If it’s wintertime, roll down the window or just crack it. You may have to sacrifice a bit of comfort, but the extra alertness and improved safety are always worth it.
Listening to the radio or your favorite CDs can be a great way to stay alert. After a while of listening to the same thing, however, the sounds will become background noise. To keep yourself engaged, try changing it up periodically. Turn the radio off for half an hour and then turn it back on. Or try listening to an audio book.
You may not want to pull over and sleep for a long time, but you can fit in a 20-minute cat nap without too much delay. Studies show that quick power naps can help you to feel re-energized and alert. Just make sure you set an alarm so that you don’t accidentally oversleep.
Nothing works better for staying awake and alert on long hauls than getting enough sleep. Strive to get 8 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep. That’s easily said, but if you eat well, get some exercise, keep caffeine to a minimum and do your best to stick to a schedule, it can happen. Be patient, it won’t be easy the first week.