One of the things that greatly negatively affects decision making is a lack of sleep. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are around 100,000 traffic accidents a year due to sleep deprivation and 1,550 fatalities. Sleep deprivation affects your concentration, vision, and memory. You may have headaches or become agitated at things that normally would not bother you. You cuss your dispatcher, get impatient on the road, or quit your company on bad terms when you otherwise would not have.
As a commercial driver, your career is based on daily decision making. And, of course, this is true for most careers, but the decisions you make on a daily basis as a driver are more consequential than most. If I make a poor decision, it may mean using the wrong word, misspelling a word, or just being dumb. You’ll laugh at me and continue on your way. If you make a bad decision when I’m driving next to you, I probably won’t laugh, and I may not go along my way.
So you need to get good sleep. I’ll list some of the proven strategies to get better sleep. And while I’m listing, see if anything jumps out at you when considering these strategies and the life of an over the road driver.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. You have to be consistent.
- Allow yourself stress-free relaxation time prior to sleep.
- Create a good sleep environment. Your sleeping environment should be quiet, dark, and a consistent temperature. Your bed should be clean and comfortable.
Exercise is critical for better sleep
Are you seeing a pattern? Consistency is key again. Regular exercise directly contributes to better sleep. Be mindful of when you workout, so that you aren’t gearing your body up before you try to shut it down for a long break of sleep.
Manage your stress…for better sleep
Stress is most often caused by feeling that things are out of our control. When we are feeling stressed, it is easy to turn to bad habits that can make it feel like areas that are under our control are beginning to spiral. Find healthy solutions to deal with stress. Talk to somebody. Partake is some critical exercise.
So did anything jump out at you regarding these suggestions as a truck driver? What jumps out is that the life of an OTR driver is almost uniformly unsuited to these standards. You don’t get to keep a schedule. It’s tough to eat right on the road. Sometimes after bad weather, heavy traffic, or an otherwise frustrating stint of driving, you don’t have the luxury to decompress before needing to sleep. You do stop by the exercise spa on a daily basis though, right? And regarding stress, that idiot driver in the $65K car on the cell phone that did their best kamikaze impersonation, you saved their bacon—and they never even noticed what happened.
Forget it. Manage your stress; go to sleep.
So what’s the point you’re asking? Why point out that OTR drivers make consequential decisions every day, describe how bad lack of sleep can negatively affect decision making, and then show how the life of an OTR driver is almost uniquely qualified to break every sleep rule?
No, I’m not a masochist. My point is that because decision making is so important to you, because lack of sleep messes with your decision making, because the life of an OTR driver is so non-conducive to good sleep—you’ve got to get when the getting is good.
, Trucking Life