It’s a generally accepted fact that adults need around 7-8 hours sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep improves your ability to concentrate and pay attention – both essentials for anyone behind the wheel. It also helps maintain a healthy heart, a healthy weight and – even more important with Covid still around – boosts your immune system.
But if your drivers are constantly on shift work, getting a healthy dose of snooze time is much harder – particularly if they’re working through the night. One out of every three drivers responding to a recent survey compiled by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETWF) admitted that they’d fallen asleep at the wheel.
However, all is not lost. There are some cost-free tips to help drivers bed down for a good sleep, depending on shifts, either at night or during the day.
Some obvious ones to kick off: avoid caffeine for at least six hours before you’re planning to go to bed. Similarly, don’t eat a heavy meal within two hours of your bedtime. A good, supportive mattress helps too.
If you’re driving home in the light after a night shift, wear sunglasses. This will prevent natural light repressing melatonin production. In case you didn’t know, melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that helps us go to sleep.
Next on the list is a pre-bed wind down starting about an hour before you get between the sheets. Try not to watch TV or look at a computer or other blue screen device during this time. If you’re at home, a warm bath or shower will kick off the production of melatonin, making it much easier for your body to hit the snooze button. The advice is that, even if you’re already feeling drowsy, it is better to stick to your routine.
If you’re regularly having to get your sleep during daylight hours, blackout blinds will help to keep your bedroom pleasingly dark.
And finally, one that you’re probably best doing on your own. It’s called the 4-7-8 method. It comes in handy if you’re having trouble nodding off. Here’s what to do: breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then breath out with a gentle “whoosh” for 8 seconds. It works. Promise!