How to Stay Awake While Driving a Truck

One of the biggest speed bumps truck drivers have to roll over is figuring out how to stay awake while driving a truck. Truckers blaze over miles and miles of open road and need to perform at their best. When operating a semi-truck, drivers must be concerned with the safety of their cargo, their own personal safety, and the safety of those other drivers on the road. The National Sleep Foundation reports that about 100,000 crashes are caused by drowsiness a year. Of these vehicular accidents, the NSF finds that there are “an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.” This is a guide to help you find out how to prevent drowsiness while in your truck. Keep yourself and other drivers on the road in tip-top shape with a few tips and tricks on how to stay awake while driving a truck. 

How to Stay Awake While Driving a Truck

How to Stay Awake While Driving A Truck

Any trucker knows that there’s more to trucking than staying awake. When operating a semi truck, your main concern is safety and lack of sleep plays a part in that. Sleepiness is one of the many things that can make or break a trucker’s on-the-road adventure. Before we get into how to stay awake while driving a truck, let’s talk about the steps that occur before sleepiness even becomes a factor. 

Preventing Sleepiness

There are certain habits that truck drivers can incorporate into their lives to completely avoid sleepiness. Truckers know all about adapting to lifestyle changes and these easy tips can make traveling long distances a breeze. 

  • Eating the Right Foods – Believe it or not, diet plays a huge role in one’s ability to stay awake. We get our energy from the foods we consume. Most likely, the healthier your food choices are, the more energy you will have. When you eat foods that have a lot of fat and sugars, you will get sleepy after eating. While on the road, it’s important to eat healthy meals, so that your brain and your body can get the best nutrients to keep you focused while driving a truck. Snacking also helps. Eating frequently helps you stay alert and gives your immune system a nice kick. If you need help with knowing which foods are great for keeping you awake, look into this list from Williams Integracare Clinic
  • A Sleep Schedule – You will have to train your body to adhere to a consistent sleeping schedule. When your body can anticipate when it will receive rest, it can prepare you for sleep. By maintaining a schedule, your body will make you tired when sleep nears and allow you to be awake when you’re supposed to be driving. 
  • More Exercise – It’s important to incorporate exercise into your trucking lifestyle. There are ways to stay in shape mentally and physically while on the road. Exercise gets you moving and alert. It signals your brain to produce the necessary hormones to keep you awake. Check out some of these exercises that you can do while on the road. 

Signs of Drowsiness

Before understanding how to stay awake while driving a truck, you must first understand the signs of drowsiness. It’s impossible to prevent sleepiness on the road if you don’t know when you’re sleepy. Here are some telltale signs that you need some rest:

  • Loss of Memory – if you have trouble keeping track of the miles you’ve covered, you may be getting sleepy. Drowsiness can cause loss of short-term memory when you physically push yourself to keep driving.
  • Drifting – Another sign of sleepiness is swerving. You might start drifting outside of your lane or drifting off to sleep. 
  • Yawning – This is the universal sign of drowsiness. If you find yourself yawning excessively, you might need some shut eye.
  • Vision Problems – Whether it’s blurred vision or difficulty focusing, issues with your vision will alert you to drowsiness. Sleepiness can make it difficult to keep your eyes open and when operating a semi truck, your eyes need to be wide open. 

Ultimately, these signs of drowsiness will impact your alertness and ability to make the right choices in your truck. If you feel impaired in any way while on the road, it’s best to stop driving until you are back in your best form. 

Staying Awake

Now that we’ve covered the ways sleepiness can take over your drive, it’s important to dive in how to stay awake while driving a truck. If all else fails and you find yourself on the road and you’re sleepy, here are some actions you can take to keep yourself awake:

  • The Coffee Cure – While coffee should be used sparingly, caffeine can give you the boost you need in a pinch. Coffee or maybe an energy drink will help keep you awake if you’re feeling drowsy. However, it’s not recommended to drink either of these beverages excessively or rely on them to maintain alertness.
  • Pump Up the Volume – Whether you jam to tunes on the road or listen to talk radio, you can keep yourself awake by turning up the volume. Finding another stimulus will keep your brain active and stop you from getting sleepy. 
  • Phone Calls – If you find yourself getting drowsy on the road, it might be necessary to get in contact with your friends or family. The ones closest to you can keep you awake and take your mind off the daunting task of driving. 
  • Take A Break – Sometimes, you just need a break. Driving for long periods of time can trigger a bunch of different physical and mental issues. If you need to pull over, pull over. Take a nap and when you wake up, you’ll be in the best shape to operate your semi truck.

How to Stay Awake While Driving A Truck with TDI

At the Truck Driver Institute, our highly trained professionals have been helping drivers learn to stay awake on the road for years. We’re on your team every step of the way. From offering our CDL Class A and B training to on-the-road practice, TDI is a resource that prepares you for a successful career in truck driving. We’ll connect you with our extensive network of companies for job placement and you can build connections with knowledgeable and experienced truck drivers who can offer you the best tips for adapting to the trucker lifestyle. Contact us today to get the most out of your career!