How Truck Drivers Stay Awake?

I started driving at 4 am, by 10 am, I started to get tired.  So I pulled over, drank a little bit of coffee and took a nap.  When I awoke, I started driving again.  I thought to myself, how other truck drivers or travelers know of any other hacks to help keep one’s self-awake?

Before you venture out on your long drive.  Make sure you are well rested.  While you are traveling, if at any point you become drowsy.  Just pull over, take a power nap for 30 minutes or so.  Studies show that a nap for less than an hour provide your body with the energy you need to be awake for longer periods of time.  Don’t fight the need to nap, find a safe place to park, and take your nap to be safe instead.

Below you will find a handful of hacks that will help you to stay awake as a truck driver or traveler.  Many of these are from my own opinions and from my own trials and errors that have worked from time to time as a truck driver.  I’ve researched a few more tips and tricks to make an amazing list for you to check out and be aware of.  Don’t go anywhere till you’ve read the list below.  You may want to take some notes.


1.  Have Plenty Of Rest Before Beginning Your Drive

When your tired, or become “drowsy” is the moment you need to start thinking about where to take a nap.  It is very possible to fall asleep behind the wheel.  In the moment of “accidentally” falling asleep for 3 seconds.  Do you know what can occur within that brief moment of time?

3 seconds is a very long time to be driving while asleep.  Do you know how long it takes your reaction time plus the actual stopping time of your vehicle to come to a stop?  So if this entire process takes roughly about 5.5 to 6.5 seconds in a car and a bit longer in a semi-truck.  At which point do you believe you’ll stop in time if your asleep while driving?


2.  Is It Nap Time? (30 to 40-minute power nap)

Along with number one, this one will also help your body, mind, and soul.  These will give you natural energy from natural rest.  Being well rested before going on a long drive is key to your safety and the safety of others.  Key fact: When you are tired while driving, it is comparable to drinking and driving.

Here’s some research from the discovery channel, to see what was done by the famous TV show Myth-busters.  It’s actually considered “Impaired Driving”.  You know, kind of like how drunk driving is considered “Impaired Driving”.  The reason this is at the top of this amazing list is to provide everyone with an understanding of how important this is.

To provide you with the knowledge to be safe, so that you don’t end up with a driving award from a police officer that pulls you over for “Drowsy Driving”.  (Psst, the driving award isn’t really an award, it’s just a more polite way of saying citation.)

Plus nobody wants to go to jail because of anything.  Not even for Drowsy Driving.  Here are some facts about how stopping distances relate to time and when to know when it may be nap time for you.

That was #1 and #2 in a nutshell.  Are you ready for #3 in this amazing list?


3.  Start Driving At Just After Sunrise

While traveling during daylight hours, we are awake, we are filled with energy and we are ready to go.  This helps us stay awake by regulating our melatonin levels, which is basically the internal clock that helps us stay awake when we are feeling drowsy.

I look at this kind of like I am a walking talking solar panel.  When it’s rainy and cloudy outside, I feel like taking a nap, do you?  These melatonin levels are the reasons why.


4.  Avoid Extremely Bright Light

These can go hand in hand and can also be somewhat confusing when grouped together.  Let me explain.  Driving during sunrise or sunset can be very dangerous.  So please take note of the “just after” part.  During these time frames, the sun can be blinding. Even with sunglasses on.

On the positive side of things.  How this relates to staying awake while driving a semi truck or any vehicle.  Your body wants to be naturally awake during daylight hours.  This is when our bodies want to be active.  We may not want to be, but our bodies do.


5.  Don’t Let Your Emotions Get Out Of Control

Being in control of our emotions while driving is a really big key component.  Keep in mind, the energy we spend, the quicker we’ll need to recharge.  Similar to a rechargeable battery.  The more stress we put on the battery, the quicker its energy is consumed.  You and I as humans are really no different.

If we’re driving down the road in a semi truck or car.  While yelling at whoever is on our hand’s free device.  Not only are we distracted from driving.  We are also using energy at a very high consumption rate.  The crazier our emotions get.  The quicker we will become drowsy.

Also, when we are emotional, sometimes we tend to make irrational decisions.  Mix this with being drowsy and we may end up going on a roller coaster ride with Georgia OverDrive (uncontrollable dangerous ride through traffic or medium or ditch and etc) that will not be forgotten by many.

Just try and be calm.  Don’t let other travelers make you angry.  Don’t let anyone you know make you emotional.  If you are going to have a moment where you need to be emotional.  Find a place to park and do so.  At the end of the day, it’s about your long drive.  About you staying awake, and you remain safe.


6.  Let The Winter Games Begin!

This has nothing to do with driving in snow.  Though everything to do with attempting to make the interior of your semi truck or vehicle be as cold as it possibly can be.  Crank up the AC, and try to make it so cold that you get goosebumps.  Now you do not want to do this for a long period of time.

The reason is that if you are exposed for long periods of cold.  This could, in fact, make you drowsy.  Now with just a brief moment of cold AC air blowing on you.  For maybe a couple of minutes at most.  This could, in fact, do the opposite.  It could in a way spark some chills, provide just enough to wake you up long enough to drive to a safe place to park.  So that you can take a power nap if need be.

I do not suggest exposing yourself to long periods of anything that has the potential to increase any manner of unsafe outcomes.


7.  Forget the Winter Games!

Above in number 6, we talked about cranking up the AC.  Now let’s talk about the opposite.  Crank the heater up, put it on full blast at the highest temperature you can make it be.  The hotter the better.  Now keep in mind this may not be for everyone.  Since some like to nap in extremely hot conditions.

However, most do not find hot air comfortable.  In fact, most people find hot hair to be annoying.  Especially when tired, it becomes unbearable.  Now I’m not suggesting this to get your emotions all crazed up.  Though I am suggesting this to help you get to a safe place to park.  So that you can take a power nap.

The reason for why this helps a truck driver stay awake.  Is because it changes the temperature between your core body temperature and the temperature you are being exposed to by an enormous amount.  This is managed through our circadian rhythms.

The circadian rhythms are not the only thing that manages our core body temperature.  So does the temperature of the environment we are exposed to.  Human functions are built in the manner of “When we are cold, we are sleepy.  When we are warm or hot, we are awake.”


8.  Too Much Noise

Sometimes there is just way too many sounds trying to be processed by our brains.  What this does is, it could cause us to have an emotional moment.

Which we are trying to avoid from the above number 5 on this amazing list of hacks for how to stay awake.  Sometimes when I am driving, I just feel like there is to many sounds going on.

It at times makes me feel a little annoyed.  Annoyance while driving is never good.  So I simply reduce all the noises to a tolerable level if possible.

I do this to put myself back in check.  So that I do not become emotional.  The end result is I save energy to stay awake longer, by not wasting energy trying to ignore something I don’t want to hear.


9.  Pump Up The Volume

Now on the opposite side of this.  Many times, driving a semi-truck or car or anything can be very boring.  So boring that boredom itself can make you drowsy.

What’s opposite of bored out of your mind?

Crank up your favorite music, make it loud and proud.  Well you know what I mean, you may or not want to be able to hear police sirens or other emergency equipment. That’s up to you, just be safe.


10.  How Embarrassing Is Singing?

While you have your favorite music playing.  Did you know that taking part in the songs, will help you to stay awake?  Really it will.  You become active, singing along can spark that second wind of energy you’ve been hoping for.

Takes your mind off the boredom you feel you’ve been engulfed in.

Just keep in mind, just because you are listening to a song like Crazy Train for example, and your singing along with Ozzy, while having a good ol’ time.  Does not mean you should drive like a crazy train.


11.  Check Any Prescriptions Your Taking

Before beginning any long road trip.  Be sure to check with your medical professional.  The reasons for this is to confirm that your medications are safe for you to take while driving long distances.

If you are unsure of this, contacting your medical professional is the best method to use to become aware of your medications.

Since a lot of prescriptions bottles are written with information by wood elves.  Many of us do not happen to have a magnifying glass handy at all times.  So just calling and asking like stated above is best.


12.  Vitamins Anyone?

While you have your medical professional on the telephone.  Go ahead and ask them what they’re thoughts are on you taking Vitamin B, and Vitamin D while driving long distances.  I say to talk with your doctor so that if in case you are taking any prescriptions.

Your doctor will be able to tell you better than I can if you can mix any of these while on your prescriptions.  Vitamin D is the Vitamin that Boosts energy levels.  Vitamin B is the Vitamin that provides you with energy.

When you combine these two in portions, it’s like expanding any bonus that was a bonus in the first place.  So in a way, it’s more like a double double bonus.  I think I almost confused myself.  I should find a vitamin to undo confusion, maybe later.

However, I’m not suggesting to take these at intervals of every time feeling drowsy.  Instead what I am suggesting is to take these a couple of times at planned times in the day.  This will help maximize the outcome of them dissolving into your body in an even manner.  Make sure you ask your doctor when would be the most optimal times for you to take these.


13.  Is Candy My Friend?

First off, Candy has some pros and cons.  First lets dive into the cons of Candy.  When we consume a lot of sugar, there is at some point a sugar crash.  This sugar crash can cause an awake person to go from bouncing off of walls, to knocked out cold in a matter of minutes.

Take children for an example.  Let’s give them all a bag of candy.  Watch them as they run around, laugh, giggle, scream and do it all over again for a little bit of time.  Then the moment your not even paying attention to them.  You look over at the children and they’re all knocked out cold.

Candy can do this also to truck drivers and other travelers.  If you are in a desperate mode to make it to a safe place to park to take a nap or just to be done driving.  Then, by all means, you grab the biggest handful of candy you can and you chow down that candy.  Eat the bag if ya want.  (I wouldn’t suggest eating the bag actually, there could be some other type of bottom end complications with that later, just saying.)

The sugar high, will not equal to the sugar crash.  The sugar crash is almost always more umph than the sugar high.


14.  Eat A Healthy Snack

Next instead, if are not looking for the sugar high.  Try some healthy snacks instead.

Maybe a small amount of a trail mix, or anything that is really 100 calories or less is usually a good suggestion.

Things like small bits of a fruit salad, or veggies like carrots.  Mostly just easy and simple hand or finger foods that can be munched on easily.  Even celery and pickles could fall into this category to a degree.


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About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

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