Getting Enough Sleep

Topic 31062 | Page 1

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Mark O.'s Comment
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Hey Folks. I'm seriously considering going into trucking and specifically OTR trucking, but I'm worried about being able to get adequate sleep. That is after all a safety issue. I know there's a mandatory 10-hour break after 11 hours of driving or after 14 hours since the last break. So I planned out a fictional trip from the Port of Los Angeles to Massachusetts on a spreadsheet (complete with stops at actual truck stops along the way). I found that if I drove for 11 hours without taking more than the mandatory 30-minute break during that time, my bedtime would move 3 hours earlier every day. That's like being in a permanent state of jet lag and would screw up my biorhythms, making it harder for me to get enough sleep. What kind of expectations do companies have around this? Can you get away with taking your 10-hour break at roughly the same time every day, or does it "migrate" from day to day? If it migrates, do any of you have strategies for getting your body to adjust so that you can sleep whenever the opportunity arises? Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

I did it when I drove OTR knowing that the more loads delivered as early as possible would equal more money in the bank account. I've never had any problems adjusting my internal clock, several times a week as needed. Around the big towns, I prefer driving at night for less traffic.

Some prim a donnas won't get going each day until 0700....after a shower, coffee, Facebook check, iron their shirt, etc. They roll in the truck stop each afternoon before dark, trying to get a spot closest to the building.

You will need to determine what works for you. The load in the trailer has a lot to do with this, especially the pick up and delivery times.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Mikey B.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't have any problems with sleeping however I found a way around the jetlag issue....caffeine. I drank a couple cups per year before driving, I drink at least 4 or 5 cups a week now. There's no real way to consistently work around the issue. You work when you have to based on when the load has to be delivered. If you have an appointment time for delivery that allows you can take longer on your 10 hour break as long as you can still make delivery on time. 10 hour driving 12-14 hour break.

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Mark, the issue of driver sleep has multiple aspects and considerations. Every driver is different and has to figure out what they can do or not do. The fortunate ones are those who can stay alert for long periods of time. But you can plan your trip out on paper and then delays such as traffic jams, road construction, breakdowns, weather, etc. can torpedo the best lates plans. Like the previous comments have pointed out, experienced drivers have the ability to conform their sleep to the delivery schedule, best times to be on the road and best times to be off the road. (Continued……)

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Some potential drivers can’t adapt to life and sleep on the road. Others actually sleep better on the road in their sleeper than anywhere else. How will you know where you fit in? You won’t know until you drive solo and have the opportunity to figure it out. You might have some clues based on what you know about your sleep history but no one can be 100% sure until they actually drive.

One critical point is to never drive drowsy, no matter what. Every carrier would advise you to get off the road, park and get some rest before continuing. The history of trucking is littered with the wreckage of death and damage caused by sleep deprived drivers.

Old School's Comment
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Hey Mark, you are in charge of how you manage things. That includes your sleep. There's no law that says you have to get back to work immediately after ten hours. You could take a 13 hour break if you wanted.

However, part of the formula for success at trucking is being able to maximize your available hours for driving. I flip my days and nights all the time. I don't know anything about biorhythms, but I do know about trucking. Leaving three hours on the table everyday amounts close to a hundred dollars per day for me. My biorhythms like that extra 30 grand in the bank.

Get out here and get started. You'll find a lot of days that you don't drive 11 hours. Let's just say you're overthinkibg this. Logistics is far from perfect. There are going to be schedule altering variables everyday. You'll learn to handle it.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
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This is one area where military veterans have the upper hand because sleep is optional, not mandatory. It’ll take a while to learn when you prefer to drive and sleep. Several factors will influence this because different areas of the country will determine when you want to run based on how you will be the most productive. I honestly don’t think there’s a clear cut answer to this question because every person is different and there will be times that you’ll be struggling because the schedule of driving will change and you have those days where you’re just physically and emotionally tired. Not so much that you’re a danger to yourself and others (never put yourself in that position) but days where you just don’t feel 100%. You’ll also have those days where you are 100% but just aren’t feeling it. It takes time but listen to your body, know your limits and try to plan the best that you can. It does get easier over time but at the beginning, it will be rough.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

Drivers face long hours of tedious miles, especially on interstates. Often the tendency is to end the tedium by feeling that you need to get some sleep but then you jump into the bunk and realize you aren’t really tired, just bored.

Modern technology has come to the rescue. There are music services like Spotify, Pandora, etc. with podcasts. Audio book services, many for free. Truck driving can give you a college education if you choose educational podcasts. Currently, I’m listening to Spanish language podcasts in an effort to refresh and learn Spanish. When and if I gain proficiency I will only post comments in Spanish. Lol When you drive you are a captive audience. There are many ways to keep the brain stimulated while chewing up those miles.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Stevo Reno's Comment
member avatar

Will be a lot easier sleeping, driving solo, than teams !! Many a time I would get bounced around, not getting much but 1-3 hour catnaps. And if you can stand being parked next to some loud APU's etc lol. But when you do a full 11 drive cycle, oh you WILL be tired, and sleep.

There are chankra healing, meditation,binaural music tunes I used at home etc, that actually worked! I'd find ones for 3-8+ hours when I used em, and was shocked how good it worked !!. 1st time thought it was a fluke, so tried different ones, and they worked. I didn't realize how fast it put me to sleep....

Told a friend who had bad insomia about em, they tried it, and said it worked great for them too LOL Go figure.....Neighbors behind us have a rooster, the damn thing crows too early, 3:30-4:00 am. He's crowing NOW, @ 8:20 am hahaha think he has his clock jacked up.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Mark O.'s Comment
member avatar

I get that you have to be somewhat flexible about sleep times to make your deliveries on time. I've wrestled with sleep issues for much of my life, but I've learned a bunch of tricks, and I've finally gotten to a point where I sleep well most nights. I'm pretty good at getting to sleep and staying asleep if I need to. I'm also good at getting awake, with the help of caffeine. But I also know that I won't function well if I'm not asleep between roughly midnight and 3:00 a.m. In fact, on cross-country road trips (by passenger car), I tend to settle into a rhythm of driving from something like 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. I actually like the predawn hours of darkness, including the lack of (other) passenger cars on the road. There are usually trucks on the road at that hour, but I like driving with trucks. Truckers are generally better drivers. As long as I am asleep between midnight and 3:00, and as long as I get a few extra hours on either end of that, I'll be okay. I get that there will be exceptions where I pick up a load in the evening and the customer needs it the next morning, but I'd kind of need for that to be the exception. What do you think? Can you usually avoid driving in the middle of the night if you're exhausted, with occasional exceptions? Or is a nocturnal schedule kind of required?

I kind of need to resolve this before I shell out for CDL training. Thanks again.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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