How to battle fatigue on the road

Long hours on the road, miles after miles, can take their toll on HGV drivers. But, as you know, it’s essential that you’re always switched on and alert to an ever-changing journey ahead of you.

So, what are the best ways to overcome the signs of fatigue and make sure you’re in the best shape possible to complete your drive safely and on time? Here are our tips for battling tiredness.

Eat the right things and often

It’s so easy to just sit and snack while you’re in the cab for most of the day, or night. But, it’s much better to eat small meals regularly and healthy snacks, to help keep up your energy – generally every three to four hours.

To help sustain energy, try to avoid foods that cause a blood sugar spike, resulting in the inevitable crash. Foods that are high in protein and fat content result in sugars being absorbed slowly by the body to provide longer-lasting energy. 

Get moving

This might sound like a ridiculous thing to say to combat tiredness, particularly when you spend most of your time in the driving seat, but, when you do stop for a break it’s important to get moving.

Regular exercise is proven to make you feel less tired in the long run, resulting in more energy. The recommended amount is 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise every week.

Fresh air can also work wonders. Research has shown that increased outdoor activity can improve concentration levels. So, if you’re suffering from fatigue, a single 15-minute walk during your rest-stop can give you that much-needed energy boost; the more you exercise regularly, the more your energy levels will improve. Even spending five minutes outdoors can help stimulate your circulation and give you the jolt of energy you need to regain concentration on the road.

What’s more, exercise boosts circulation, improves cardiovascular health and is proven to help you to sleep more soundly, as it’s great at combatting stress and helping to balance your mood.

Drink more water

Sometimes you feel tired because you're slightly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick. So, as soon as you feel an afternoon slump coming on, choose water instead of coffee and see how your energy improves.

Sleep more

It’s essential that when you’re not on the road, you get as much rest as possible. Under the EU rules, you need to rest from driving for 11 hours each day.

To improve sleep quality, experts recommend following a consistent bedtime routine: go to bed at the same time each night; get enough hours of sleep; and improve your sleep comfort. This can result in a deeper sleep, leaving you feeling refreshed and energised the following morning.

Napping is also proven to combat fatigue. A 10-minute nap is usually enough to boost energy.

Drink less alcohol

After a long journey, a pint of beer might be just the ticket! Even though it might help you fall asleep, drinking alcohol means you don’t sleep as deeply, so the next day you still feel tired, even if you’ve had the recommended eight hours.

Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You'll get a better night's rest and have more energy.

Shed extra weight

If you’re carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Most experts recommend reducing portion sizes, eating balanced meals, and increasing physical activity, to help lose and maintain a healthy weight.

Cut out caffeine

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine. It suggests gradually reducing all caffeine drinks over a three-week period.

Caffeine is found in:

·  Coffee

·  Tea

·  Cola

·  Energy drinks

·  Some painkillers and herbal remedies.

Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less tired without it. 

If you’d like more information on combatting fatigue and driving safely, call us on +44 (0) 1942 826 107.