Most people look forward to the “extra” hour of sleep the end of Daylight Saving Time promises us, but falling back an hour brings shorter days and longer nights. According to a study by the Insurance Bureau in British Columbia, there is a rise in late afternoon crashes in the two weeks following the fall time change. The primary factor in this is the reduced exposure to light. Our bodies base our sleep patterns on the light/dark cycles and even one hour difference can disrupt our circadian rhythm and our quality of sleep. In the few weeks following either time change, our bodies are still adapting to this change. This can bring on fatigue, headaches, and a lack of focus or productivity.
The days, or even weeks following the time change is confusing for your body and you are more likely to experience fatigue. Fatigue can strike anyone, regardless of experience or time of day. For decades, truck drivers have been trying to find tips and tricks that will help them fight fatigue so they stay on the roads. However, none of these tactics have proven to be effective. Here are the top four fatigue myths you should avoid and why they don’t work.
Consuming highly caffeinated drinks may do you more harm than good. Caffeine can give you an initial burst of energy, but this is often short-lived, leaving you craving more sugar and caffeine. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to headaches, difficulty falling asleep, dehydration, and a caffeine dependency. Instead of relying on jumbo caffeinated drinks, focus on getting quality sleep to energize you.
Rolling Your Windows Down
We all like to feel the breeze of fresh country air, but this tactic should never be used to help you stay awake. While rolling your window down or turning up your AC will keep you cool, it is not a practical way to fight fatigue. Medical experts recommend sleeping in a cool area, so putting your AC on full blast could potentially act as a trigger for sleep, making you more fatigued.
Listening to Music or the Radio
Listening to your favorite song might energize and excite you for a few minutes, but these effects are not long lasting. Turning up the volume on your radio will not prevent fatigue and could lead you to become distracted if the volume is too loud.
Talking on the Phone
While talking on the phone (hands-free of course) is sometimes necessary to communicate with fleet managers, shippers, etc., talking on the phone should not be used as a strategy to stay awake. Like the other myths, talking on the phone could help you feel more awake for only a short time. Talking on the phone is more likely to distract you than help you stay awake.
If you find yourself feeling the effects of the time change, follow these tips to help your body adjust:
- To help with the reduced visibility in more hours of darkness, turn your lights on sooner and clean your lights, windshield, and mirrors well.
- Eliminate any interior lighting that may cause a glare.
- Give yourself adequate time in your trip plans so you avoid feeling rushed and have time to take adequate breaks.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maximize your exposure to natural light whenever possible.
Remember, the only thing that will fight fatigue is to get good quality sleep. None of the myths above will effectively combat tiredness. Learn to recognize your own signs of fatigue and never push yourself past your limits for the sake of delivering a load. You are more important than the freight you carry, so know when it is time to shut down and rest. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back by one hour and enjoy the extra hour!