Last week we had a chat about the importance of catching quality Z’s on the road, and if you’ve been following our advice, you’re probably sleeping like a baby in your rig. But we get it, those long, late hours can still get to you pretty easily. That’s why we’re switching gears this week to discuss some tips for staying energized and alert on those long hauls.
1. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water regularly is a no-brainer for combating dehydration, which is often a culprit when it comes to feelings of fatigue or sluggishness. If you want to really go all in, get yourself a refillable water bottle. This makes it easy to track your water intake while also ensuring that you have some accessible at all times, plus it’s eco-friendly.
Keep in mind that drinking caffeinated beverages will increase fluid loss over time, not to mention the crash once your temporary energy wears off. There’s nothing wrong with a cup of joe here and there, just don’t swim in it.
2. Eat Right
Eating right is your ticket to sustained energy. There are a few different aspects to be mindful of, and all of them are essential to maximizing your energy levels throughout your drives. Aiming for balanced meals that include a combination of nutrients is your best bet for providing consistent energy throughout the day, so that’s a good place to start. Avoiding excess sugar is also a solid idea – while a candy bar may give you that quick boost you’re looking for in the moment, it’ll lead to a sugar crash and you’ll be more tired in the long run.
Portion sizes also have an impact on your energy levels, and some truck stop meals can often be oversized, leaving you feeling full and sleepy. Saving half or splitting a meal if you’re riding with a partner can be a perfect way to avoid overeating while also keeping a snack in your back pocket for later.
3. Simple Exercise and Stretching
Incorporating some basic movement into your routine can do wonders when it comes to reducing stiffness, promoting circulation, and improving overall alertness during those long hours on the road. This can include anything from jumping jacks and leg lifts to simply taking a brisk walk around a rest area before lunch – we’re not asking for a marathon here.
Sitting in the same position for extended periods of time can cause drowsiness and make it difficult to stay energized, and this is a quick fix that provides immediate results.
4. Cab Climate
The climate inside your truck plays a big role in your comfort and ultimately, your ability to stay energized while driving long distances. Factors like temperature, lighting, and noise can all impact how awake your body feels at any given time. Extreme heat or cold can be physically exhausting, dim lighting at night can cause eye strain and fatigue, and excessive noise from the road or engine can be tiring over time.
You’ll thank yourself later for using strategies to take care of these issues before your drive. Make sure your heat and AC are functioning and that your lighting is set how you like it, and properly maintain your vehicle to avoid too much noise during operation.
Keeping in touch with fellow truckers or your dispatcher is not only the best way to stay up to date on the latest route, load, and trip information but it can also wake you up a bit. Talking to someone else works to combat feelings of isolation and fatigue, which keeps you alert and focused on the road.
6. Engage Your Mind
Nothing can put you to sleep like the drone of the highway flying underneath your tires. Interrupt it with something that engages your mind and gets you going, like some music or a good podcast.
7. Power Nap Pit Stops
If all else fails and you still can’t keep your eyes open, it might be time to cut your losses and pull over for a quick nap. The key word here is “quick”, and the trick to a successful power nap is actually keeping it in that 10 to 20 minute range. This can improve alertness, focus, and energy without any of that “Where am I and how many years have I been asleep?” nonsense that can sometimes accompany waking up from a longer nap.
Limiting your power nap to 20 minutes max prevents your body from falling too deep into sleep, which often results in those groggy feelings upon waking up.