If you work in a role that requires you to drive for a living, it’s vital that you prioritise your sleep. Every year, accidents occur because drivers were tired at the wheel. Tiredness can impair driving performance as badly as alcohol and drugs. Here are some tips to ensure you are always bright and alert behind the wheel.
- Prioritise quality sleep
It’s not enough to simply be in bed for a certain number of hours, you must also prioritise the quality of your sleep by practising good sleep hygiene. One of the most important things you can do is ensure that you don’t use screens before bedtime, as they emit blue light that affects your body’s ability to release melatonin, the hormone that signals it’s time to wind down. So turn off your TV and phone at least two hours before bed or wear blue-light-blocking glasses.
Further advice includes using a good mattress and making sure your bedroom is cool and dark when you go to bed – too much light and heat result in interrupted sleep and you need plenty of restorative deep sleep to feel truly rested. A fitness tracker can provide useful insights into your sleep and you can also use sleep meditation or white noise to help you drift off. Otherwise, remove all connected devices from your room at bedtime.
- Cut out caffeine
Caffeine in the morning is useful for an energy boost, but it will affect your circadian rhythm if you drink it late in the day due to its ongoing energising effects. If you go to bed at 10 pm, stop drinking coffee by 2 pm and adjust accordingly.
On the other hand, when you need to feel awake, coffee around 20 minutes after you wake up will help to provide an adrenaline shot with focus, energy and concentration. The Sleep Institute has carried out interesting studies into caffeine consumption and its effects on sleep.
- Eat for energy
White grains and refined sugar may give you quick energy boosts but they will then cause your blood sugar to fall, leaving you feeling tired during work. Choose slow-release sustaining foods that offer long-term energy gains such as complex carbohydrates and plenty of protein and good fats.
Bananas are a great choice for a snack and a good breakfast such as porridge with nuts will give you a sustaining start to the day. Avoid heavy and greasy fry-ups which will tax your digestion and leave you sluggish. It’s also sensible to eat foods that contain tryptophan in the evening as they help to promote sleep. Try turkey, nuts, eggs and pork.
- Avoid alcohol
Although a glass of wine or a beer in the evening may help you to feel relaxed after work, it will translate into a poorer night’s sleep overall. We all know that feeling: you’ve had a few drinks and suddenly you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. It’s no secret that alcohol can make you feel sleepy. But what you may not know is that alcohol can actually disrupt your sleep once you finally do drift off. It reduces the quality of your sleep and prevents you from reaching the deepest stages of sleep. As a result, you may wake up feeling groggy and unrefreshed. So if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep, it’s best to steer clear of alcohol before bedtime.
When you exercise you sleep better because your body is physically tired and ready to recover. Moderate exercise has been shown to promote deeper, more restful sleep.
You can also try to exercise outdoors to benefit from natural light which also sets your circadian rhythm. Regular physical activity can help to regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Even half an hour of walking counts as exercise and it will lower your stress levels, as well as help to optimise your sleep, so it’s worth a try.
Article Copyright by Hendy Car and Van Store
About the TTSAO
Founded in 1993, the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) is the largest association representing commercial truck driver training programs in Ontario. TTSAO members represent approximately 50 training campuses and collectively certify over 7,000 commercial drivers annually. The TTSAO Carrier Group employs 10’s of 1,000’s of professional drivers in Ontario and the TTSAO Insurance Group companies and brokers insures 100’s of schools and trucking companies. The TTSAO’s mission is to support the commercial driver training industry through advocacy, networking, education and certification programs to help members produce the highest quality of professional drivers possible. To learn more, visit www.ttsao.com.