Financial Tips & Guides
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How to Stay Awake While Driving Your Semi Truck

Updated on September 13, 2019


Driving a long distance as a truck driver is not just tasking, it can be an equally dull and boring activity. As a result of boredom, it is not unexpected for a truck driver to fall asleep while on the road and this can be dangerous to lives and properties. Therefore, every trucker must learn how to stay awake while driving to prevent any risk associated with doing otherwise.

What Are the Factors That Lead You to Sleeping While Driving?

Before learning truck driver tips to stay awake, it's essential to understand some of the factors that can make you susceptible to feeling tired or sleepy while driving.

You could fall asleep while driving because:
• Sleep deprivation
• Driving while overly tired or fatigued
• Driving under the influence of alcohol
• Driving after taking medications that can lead to drowsiness
• Long distance driving without having enough rest or breaks
• Long distance driving between midnight and early hours of the day (around 6 am)
• Long distance driving across several time zones
• Driving a lot, such as over 60 hours each week

Proven Tips for Trucker to Stay Awake While Driving

Check out the following proven tips for staying awake while you are on the road:
• Have a nap before starting your haul
Getting enough rest before beginning your journey can never be overemphasized because many long-distance drivers have shown that resting before getting on the road helps them stay awake while driving. Therefore, you should ensure that you take a quick power-nap before getting behind the wheel.

• Eat healthy meals
Eating healthy meals is another crucial thing that can help you stay awake while driving. It's advisable to eat meals that have a lot of protein and complex carbohydrates because they are not easily broken down; they can help you maintain your stamina for those long drives without falling asleep.
Avoid foods with lots of salt, fat, and sugar because they can cause you to become sleepy. Eat meals with vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains.

• Drive during your active hours of the day
When learning how to stay awake while driving, you must not overlook the effect that the time of the day has on your fatigue. Make sure that you only drive during the hours when you usually are active. Unless you are a nocturnal person, the most active hours are during the daytime when the sun is out.
There have been many studies on the effect that the sun has on the human body, and it's now known that the amount of light outside has a direct influence on people’s ability to stay awake. So, try and drive when the sun is still out and shining; when it starts to get dark, it will make you tired.

• Do not take medication that can make you feel tired
You need to avoid antidepressants, cold medications and any other medications that can make you sleepy or drowsy while you are on the road. Most of the time, prescription medication labels will tell you whether or not you can use them and continue to drive safely. If it isn’t a prescription, and you merely have a cold, you should try to avoid taking OTC meds that can make you drowsy. If you feel that you can’t cope without taking cold medicine make sure you look for non-drowsy types.

• Monitor the duration of your driving
Another tip to stay awake while driving is to monitor how long you have been driving to plan when and where you will rest. Therefore, before getting on the road, decide how long you are going to drive before taking a break. With a schedule set, it will be easy for you to prevent drowsiness because you know your next rest stop or break.

• Listen to loud, lively music
Music has always been known to influence your mood. You can take advantage of music to ensure you stay awake while driving. Do not listen to soft, serenading music that puts you to sleep. Instead, listen to energetic music and crank up the volume for the best effect.

• Listen to suitable audiobooks
Listening to adrenaline-pumping or thought-provoking audiobooks is one of the leading truck driver tips to stay awake while driving. You can choose a scary or action-filled audiobook which has suspense that can keep you longing for the next chapter of the book.

• Lower the temperature in your cab
Driving over a long distance when the temperature is comfortable and soothing can be instrumental in making you tired. So you can avoid falling asleep by lowering the temperature of your cab a bit. You should open the window a little to let cold, breezy air flow through.

• Chew Gum
Since chewing gum keeps your mouth active, it can help you stay awake while driving a truck. Get a pack of chewing gum before starting your journey and eat one from time to time to prevent drowsiness.

• Travel with a partner
Driving with a partner can also be very beneficial in helping you stay awake. If you're feeling drowsy while driving, your partner can make sure to stimulate you to keep you up. Also, talking to the person while you are driving can help you stay awake.

• Drink lots of water
Various studies have shown that dehydration is one of the major causes of fatigue which, in turn, can lead to drowsiness. Consequently, you should keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water while driving. Apart from hydration, drinking water will force you to use the restroom every so often. I don’t know about you, but when I have to use the restroom, it's difficult to think about anything else much less fall asleep. And when you stop to use the restroom, getting out of your vehicle and walking around can help refresh you while you are at it.

• Take vitamins
Vitamin B complex and vitamin C can give you the energy required to stay awake while driving. You should take some vitamin B and C pills during your trip. Otherwise, make sure to eat foods that have a high percentage of these vitamins to snack on.

• Wipe your face with a wet towel
Using a moist or wet towel to wipe your face can also help you prevent sleepiness or drowsiness. You can dip a towel inside cold water, squeeze the water out and wipe your face with it.

• Eat snacks
As you are driving, take a mouthful of snacks that can keep you active and alert. You should choose healthy snacks that will not have any harmful effect on your body. Sitting and driving for hours on end without exercise with the addition of junk food can quickly cause you to gain a extra pounds.

• Put some ice cubes in your mouth
If you are having difficulty with staying alert as you are driving, put some ice cubes in your mouth. The temperature can help you to retain your alertness similar to being doused in cold water.

• Take a cup of coffee
A cup of coffee may be everything you need to stay awake during your trip. As a diuretic, the caffeine inside the coffee will make you use the restroom so that you can stay alert. Nevertheless, this tip to stay awake while driving should be one of your last resorts because drinking coffee cannot replace taking rests or breaks. As an alternative, you can take a cup of green tea.

• Take energy drinks
Energy drinks are filled with sugar and most importantly caffeine that can energize you and keep you alert. However, as good as energy drinks can help you stay awake while driving, they have so many chemicals that may be harmful to your body. So, this truck driver tip to stay awake should only be one of your last resorts. Getting into the habit of drinking energy drinks to stay awake naturally isn’t an excellent idea.

• Do some exercises
Pushups, stretches, squats, jumping jacks and other forms of exercise can help you with staying awake while driving. All you need to do is to find the right place to pull over and do some physical activities for a few minutes.

• Take a nap
If you find yourself at a point where you are about to fall asleep at the wheel, find a good place to pull over and take a nap. You can even make it a habit of marking specific rest stops along your route for places to take a nap. Sometimes having a schedule for intermittent breaks is a good thing. Getting into the habit of taking a nap after driving a certain number of hours can help you stay awake in between those breaks. And many times all you need is a 20-30 minute power nap before you can return to feeling refreshed and set back out on the open road.

• Do silly things
Rather than sitting all day driving without much to do, you can try doing annoying or silly things that you wouldn’t normally do to help pass the time as well as helping you avoid sleepiness. For instance, you can pinch your earlobes, stomp the ground with your legs or sing out loud.

The most important thing to remember is that driving while tired is more dangerous than driving while you are drunk. More people get into accidents every year because they are tired. And recent studies show that drowsiness causes your brain to be more sluggish than drunkenness. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake, it is better that you take a break to keep both yourself and the people you’re sharing the road with safe and sound.

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Noel Ballon

Noel Ballon is a skilled personal finance writer passionate about helping people to succeed financially.

As a guest writer for CASH1, Noel has shared his knowledge on a variety of financial issues, including budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning

Noel has a background in economics and finance with over five years of experience writing in the financial sector.

He works to simplify complicated financial ideas so that people from every area of society may understand them.

When Noel isn't writing, he likes keeping current on the latest financial sector changes and looking for fresh approaches to assisting people in choosing wise financial decisions.