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Your Health
Dozing during the day
There are certain things that drivers can do to help themselves get some good rest when they crawl into their sleeper

A few tips
by Jason Cisper

There are many times when a trucker has no choice but to sleep during the day. A late load can cause a trucker to run out of hours in the middle of the day. Maybe the driver has a long stretch to wait before he/she is loaded. Or, maybe he/she simply feels tired, and wants to get some rest.

Whatever the reason, there are certain things that drivers can do to help themselves get some good rest when they crawl into their sleeper. Perhaps some of these suggestions are already part of a driver's resting ritual. But when you just can't get to sleep during the middle of the day, here are a few pointers:

Create an environment that is conducive to sleep
For starters, block out as much light as possible. The idea is to trick your body into thinking it's nighttime. And since circadian rhythms (your internal sleep clock) have a tendency to make you want to doze when the sun has gone down, it will help you get some shuteye. If your drapes don't quite get the job done, a blindfold is another viable option.

Also, make sure your sleeper is set at a comfortable temperature. If you're in doubt, go with a cooler temperature - the Sleep Foundation says that a cool environment "improves sleep."Depending on where you're parked, sound may also be an issue. A bustling truckstop or rest stop area may bring about some distractions. If you're particularly sensitive to your surroundings, you might want to consider ear plugs. "White noise" machines (sold in local department stores, they produce soothing sound like waves, or a thunderstorm) are also popular. Or if you're someone who can't sleep if it's too quiet, consider some soft music.

Make certain your bed is comfortable. If your mattress or pillows are worn out (body indentions, uneven springs, etc.) replace them. Clean sheets, soft pillows and a firm mattress make getting comfortable much easier. Finally, try to avoid stacking clothing or paperwork on your bed. The quick clean-up job you'll have to do before you rest will get your blood pumping, and it will take you longer to calm down and relax.

Going down for the count
Even if you've successfully converted your sleeper from a catch-all to a comfort zone, you might not always be able to fall asleep when you stop to rest. A few quick steps can make all the difference.

If you're in a truckstop, consider taking a hot shower. Not only will the water help to relax you, but the drastic change in your body temperature sends signals to your mind that sleep sounds like a pretty good idea.When you lie down, clear your head. Try not to think about the paperwork you still need to finish, the bills you have to pay or the shipper who made you mad earlier in the week. If your mind is racing, stress remains high and you'll likely toss and turn. If your mind wanders, try to think of peaceful events: Imagine yourself on a camping trip or at home with your family. Put yourself into relaxation mode.

If you're not used to stopping during the day, an over-the-counter sleep aid might be helpful. There are a large number of herbal medications sold in drugstores that will help induce sleep. Before using one, however, consult your doctor, reminding him that you're an OTR driver. There are a lot of potential risks to consider when taking any type of medication (ranging from extended drowsiness to the potential for interference on a drug test). Remember that the pills are meant for short-term relief.

Some final advice to sleep on

Avoid caffeine. It's a stimulant, and will keep you awake.

Don't smoke before bedtime.Nicotine is just as bad as caffeine, when it comes to sleep interruption.

Stay away from the booze. While it may make you drowsy, alcohol actually interrupts your ability to fall into a deep sleep. Not to mention the fact that it is illegal for you to have it in your truck.

Watch what you eat. Don't go to bed hungry, but don't stuff yourself before sleeping. Try a snack or a small meal. And try not to eat anything greasy or spicy.

Try to establish an exercise routine, but not right before you go to bed. Exercise will help you sleep more peacefully, but schedule your workout a few hours before you lay down.

Aug/Sept Digital Edition