Each year, out of the 111,000 approximate injuries that occur on North American roads, it is estimated that up to 56% of those are attributable to fatigue. As a result, there has been an increasing focus on how drivers can combat their ongoing issues with sleep deprivation. This is why we’ve outlined for you a few tips you can use to get the most out of your sleep breaks.
As NIOSH Director, Dr John Howard, said: “Sleep plays a critical role in our personal well-being; being on the road for long periods without getting adequate sleep may place truck drivers at higher risk for vehicle crashes, as well as create other health concerns.” Those health concerns include overeating, a lowered immune system, obesity, heart disease, and more.
First of all, what you can do is train your drivers to understand how they can correctly manage their fatigue and why it is such an important topic. For example, while things are a little slow in Alberta right now, Fox Oilfield has been taking this time as an opportunity to ensure all our drivers have taken the Fatigue Management course (learn more HERE) and their Hours of Service course (learn more HERE).
Next, here’s a short list of things to do and what not do before going to sleep.
- Park in a place that ensures you will be safe and quiet, where no one will disturb you, and you can get a full 7-9 hours (the recommended amount of daily sleep).
- Block out all light to your cabin using eye masks, curtains, and / or shades.
- Block out any noise using noise cancelling headphones, white-noise, or earplugs when safe to do so.
- Keep your cabin comfortable. This includes the temperature, your pillow, blanket, and mattress. You’re spending almost 1/3 of your day here, so make it count!
- Create a routine before bed so that your body knows it is time to fall asleep.
- Try and fall asleep at relatively the same time every day if possible.
- Explain to anyone who could or would disturb you how important your sleep is and minimize the chance that these people will interrupt it.
- Eat heavy or spicy foods within 2-3 hours of going to bed.
- Watch the amount of liquids you drink before going to bed. Frequent wake ups from bathroom breaks can disturb what would otherwise be a healthy and long sleep.
- Drink Caffeine or other stimulants prior to going bed.
- Try to minimize the amount of bright lights like cellphones or laptops right before sleep, as studies have shown that it could prevent your body from shifting to “sleep-mode.”
- Try to avoid and / or use extra caution during these times, as studies have shown them to be when we are most drowsy, resulting in a higher rate of accidents or near misses: 4AM-6AM, 12AM-2AM, and 2PM-4PM.
Hopefully by outlining these do’s and don’ts of sleep, you now have a greater understanding of how to combat fatigue. It is our hope that our continued dedication to road safety will make Alberta roads a safer place to be for, not just the trucking industry, but everyone involved, as we all share these roads.