The best way for fleet drivers to guard against drowsy driving is to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Here are some strategies, provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, to improve sleep habits:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm.
- Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
- Avoid heavy or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
- Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as eight hours. So a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
- Spend time outside every day, when possible, and be physically active.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
- Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.
Shift workers may also find it helpful to:
- Take naps and increase the amount of time available for sleep.
- Keep the lights bright at work.
- Limit shift changes so your body clock can adjust.
- Limit caffeine use to the first part of your shift.
- Remove sound and light distractions in your bedroom during daytime sleep (for example, use light-blocking curtains).
To view a video about drowsy driving dangers, click on the photo or link below the headline.