The importance of obtaining a regular sleeping pattern is often questioned among professional drivers, mainly because working in this industry means an unnatural work schedule, and therefore an irregular sleeping schedule.
How do I set a schedule if I’m always driving?
How can I make myself sleep longer at night?
These are all very common questions. Setting a regular sleeping schedule for yourself is one of, if not THE, most important thing we can strive for day in and day out. A regular sleeping schedule will allow you to fall into a deep sleep for a longer period and allow your “internal clock” (aka your circadian rhythm) to set itself. A well-regulated sleeping routine will help establish your circadian rhythm and will promote the release of important hormones in the body that help you feel well rested when you wake up.
The two types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In REM sleep you will experience dreams that you may remember the next day. During this sleep, you are not experiencing the rest you need. When you wake up from REM sleep you may feel groggy, and more tired and fatigued. In NREM sleep the brain waves slow significantly and the heart and blood vessels, as well as muscle tissues, repair themselves. The longer you are in NREM sleep, the more rested you will feel when you wake up. Practicing a regular sleeping schedule can increase the amount of time that you are in NREM sleep each night.
Adequate sleep is important so our body can repair itself but it’s also important for overall health and wellness. According to the National Institutes of Health, consecutive days of sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Professional truck drivers are already at higher risk for chronic disease due to long hours of sitting, not drinking enough water, and eating unhealthy foods at truck stops. So, do yourself a favor and avoid these chronic conditions by getting a good night’s sleep!
Some tips to help yourself set a regular sleeping schedule and get a better night’s sleep include:
- Winding down at the same time of night (or day) as many days as possible
- Wake up at the same time every day (or night)
- Breathing deeply in and out of your nose before bed time
- Limiting the use of cell phones, tablets, and TV before sleeping
- Taking a warm bath or shower before bed
- Avoid eating a big meal 1-2 hours before bed time
- Limit the use of caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol when you’re winding down