Staying on top of sleep when you're on the road
14/07/2020
Staying on top of sleep when you're on the road

Sleep. It’s an essential part of being human but one that many of us frequently miss out on. If you’re a haulage driver in the UK then you’ve probably found it challenging to get enough and you might even be experiencing the consequences of too little. Around a third of the UK population only gets up to six hours sleep a night – this can have a big impact on the way you function. For example, if you get less than five hours, the effect on your brain is the same as if you were drunk. Between seven and eight hours sleep a night is crucial to consistently maintain cognitive brain function – so how do you do it?
 
Make sure you’re aware of the risks
 
If you work in the haulage industry then you’re one of those most likely to fall short on basic sleep requirements. While this is the nature of the beast in terms of the way that work is often structured (especially with strict HGV working hour directives), it can also be incredibly problematic. Tiredness costs the British economy around 200,000 work days every year but it could cost you more. Sleep deprivation, especially when your job involves long periods of sitting in relative silence, can lead to drowsiness and a lack of awareness that may end in tragedy.
 
Learn what contributes to better sleep
 

  • Stay in shape. As haulage driving is a sedentary lifestyle it’s very easy to end up putting on weight in this job. However, the heavier you are the more likely you will fall asleep on the roads. You may also find your sleep is more disrupted than a leaner, lighter person thanks to issues such as snoring.
 
  • Limit your phone use. Wherever you’re likely to be when you sleep, turn off devices such as mobile phones at least 30 minutes before you want to doze off.
 
  • Remember the impact of caffeine. It can be a vicious cycle if you need caffeine to stay awake while driving and then can’t sleep because there’s too much of it in your system. Try to limit your caffeine consumption so that you’re not drinking it excessively and remember how long it takes for it to leave your system (four to six hours).
 
  • Track your sleep habits. Recent studies have found that participants benefit from taking the time to track and analyse existing sleep habits. This includes identifying any particular sleep issues, such as restless leg syndrome, and keeping a diary of when you actually sleep. You can then analyse the results to see where your most negative sleep habits are and introduce a few positive changes to turn this around.
 
  • Every little helps. Small improvements that add even a little to your nightly total of shuteye could make a big difference to how you feel – and how safe you are – overall.
 
Sleep is essential for anyone working in the haulage industry. If you’re constantly tired and stuck in unhealthy habits then it might be time for change.
 

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