Getting enough sleep nowadays is becoming a real challenge. Busy lifestyles, work commitments, social media pressure have been making us sleep less. But is it healthy to live like this? Can we still function normally with fewer hours of sleep or no sleep at all? The answer is no. It’s not healthy. We all need those 7-8 hours of sleep every night to wake up fresh and recovered from the previous day. But we don’t always have the luxury of a good night’s sleep. How about taking naps then?
Naps are more important than we think. And no, they are not just for elderly and kids. In fact, naps can help save lives. Take, for example, truck drivers. For those who spend days on the road, naps can become a vital tool to combat fatigue and stay alert. Although they are certainly no substitute for sleepless nights, naps can help drivers stay more focused. But before we get to the subject of napping and trucking, let’s focus more on the nap itself.
Things You Should Know About Napping
Several studies have found that taking a 10-minute nap can be very effective and help you improve your performance. However, if you take longer than 20 min naps, you will get almost the opposite effect. You will feel more tired and sleepy and fail to stay focused in general. The problem with most people is that they don’t have enough information about napping and how long to nap, so they choose coffee instead.
Like it or not, your sleep problems won’t dissolve in a cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter how much you love the ‘magical’ drink; coffee will only help you stay alert in the short term while napping will help your overall performance in the long run.
According to sleep experts, daytime naps can increase alertness, boost creativity, reduce stress and the risk of heart attack, improve perception, stamina, motor skills and accuracy, enhance your sex life, aid in weight loss, brighten your mood and boost memory. Overall, napping will help you to stay healthy.
Be careful though, napping is not for everyone, and it does not always help. According to a Mayo Clinic post, napping may also have negative effects such as sleep inertia and nighttime sleep problems. So, you should read more on that, and try napping for a week or two to see how you feel and how long of a nap you need.
It is also crucial to know at what time of the day you should take a nap because not all naps can be productive. Usually, it is advisable to take short, 10-20 minutes naps whenever you feel sleepy and tired, but an afternoon nap is the more productive one.
According to NSF, there are the three types of naps:
- Planned napping – is taking a nap before you get sleepy. This one is especially useful when you know you will stay up later than usual due to work or study. Use planned napping to prevent fatigue.
- Emergency napping – should be used when you suddenly feel tired and deprived of energy and cannot continue with your daily activities. This type of nap is used to combat drowsy driving and/or fatigue that may occur while operating dangerous machinery.
- Habitual napping is the practice of daily napping. In other words, incorporating siesta in your daily routine making it a habit. For example, young children often fall asleep at about the same time each afternoon.
Napping and Trucking
While napping is important for everyone to be more productive and alert, drivers and especially truck drivers are the ones who most need to nap. Driving while feeling sleepy is very dangerous, but most people still get on the road despite the lack of sleep, risking their life and the lives of others on the road.
A nap could save a life!
Experts say that taking naps right before hitting the road helps to stay more focused. If you feel sleepy while driving it is better to pull over somewhere safe and take a short nap instead of continuing your trip. Unfortunately, many truck drivers disregard the importance of nap. Partially, such negligence is due to unfair working conditions and lack of safe parking. No wonder, many commercial truck drivers have been guilty of drowsy driving.
What do you know about drowsy driving? Not much? Well, according to the New York Department of Health, driving drowsy can be as risky as drunk driving. Shocking right?
Below are some of the Drowsy Driving signs:
- Can’t remember the last few miles driven
- Drifting from lanes or hitting rumble strips
- Wandering or disconnected thoughts
- Yawning repeatedly
- Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
- Tailgating or missing traffic signs
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Jerking the vehicle back into the lane
If you notice any or all of these sings, you have to take a nap. There is no way around it. Truck drivers who drive for more than eight hours straight are more likely to be in a fatigue-related crash than truck drivers who take regular breaks. That is why getting enough sleep is very important for truck drivers. But not all truck drivers have the luxury of 7-8 hours of sleep before getting on the road; hence, napping is critical to surviving the long drive ahead.
Truck drivers, take heed: Don’t feel bad if you are sleepy most of the time and need to take naps. We are all human. Even NASA encourages their pilots to take naps while at work in order to pump up their performance. You are just as important as NASA pilots!
NASA pilots are allowed to take short naps at work to fight drowsiness and stay alert.
- Pilots who were allowed to take a short nap (40 to 45 minutes) improved their performance by 34% and their alertness by 54%, he reports.
- In the last 90 minutes of flight, pilots who got naps had 34 microsleeps. Those who weren’t allowed to nap had 120 microsleeps.
“We already know people are sleeping on the job. Their performance and safety are going to suffer if they are sleepy. If we can get performance up by 34% by letting them nap, why not? There’s no other motivator, nothing else that pumps up performance that much.” Mark Rosekind, the board member for the National Sleep Foundation, states.
For more information about why napping can be very helpful to truckers read the post by the Harvard Health Publications. There you can also find some tips on how to take a good nap. How much more proof do you need that naps can help improve your performance and alertness?
Although napping should be an essential part of every long-haul driver’s routine, it’s not the only thing to help a trucker stay healthy. We’ve compiled an entire post just about that. Don’t forget to check it out!
Have you been taking naps? How long are your naps? Are you ready or willing to try, if you haven’t? Do you have any other tips on how to keep in good health? Share with us in the comments below. Thanks!