Sleep deprivation is a problem across the Untied States, if not the entire world. Increased demands and growing health risks are preventing people from getting the required amount of sleep to function optimally on a daily basis. The one industry that sees the highest number of workers performing alongside a sleep deficit is trucking.
Why Truckers Experience Sleep Deprivation
Many truckers are on irregular schedules, which can disrupt sleep patterns. Even those truckers who “settle in” to odd hours may still find themselves with low-quality sleep if they are spending their down time in a sleeper berth. The outside noises and vibrations lend themselves to sleep deprivation. Additionally, many truckers – and Americans as a whole – suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea means people have trouble getting to and staying asleep. All of this comes together in some starting and scary statistics.
The Dangers Of Sleep Deprivation
70 million people in the United States suffer from sleep problems. Of those, 60 percent suffer from chronic illnesses that contribute to their overall health and sleep deprivation. To focus in tighter on the trucking industry, the National Transportation Safety Board estimates that roughly 20 percent of all accident investigations can be traced to fatigue originating from poor sleep habits. The AAA Foundation similarly estimated that poor sleep causes almost 6,500 vehicular fatalities every year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has concluded that transportation workers have some of the highest rates of short or poor quality sleep when compared to all other industries. That’s some startling information for both truckers and regular drivers alike.
So What Can We Do To Get Better Sleep?
The amount of sleep we get directly impacts our situational awareness and ability to react to situations on the road. Unfortunately, the trucking lifestyle does not offer many opportunities for exercise, but getting a little physical activity in whenever possible can go a long way towards better sleep. Similarly, changing eating habits to reduce sugar and carbohydrates can improve sleep. For those who have to spend nights in the cab or a sleeper berth, getting one of those old-fashioned sleeping masks to shut out ambient light, and even earplugs to reduce those outside noises can increase the amount and quality of sleep you get. Finally, mention to your doctor that you are having trouble sleeping. Tell them that you don’t want to rely on medication if at all possible, because trucking requires alertness without dealing with possible side effects.
The trucking industry as a whole is suffering from sleep deprivation, and we need to find solutions, especially with the increased demand on the industry.