Fatigue happens to everyone. From the daily 9-5 worker who spent the previous night “unwinding” at the bar to the barista at your corner coffee shop. It’s everywhere. Unfortunately, some careers implement rougher sleep schedules than others. One of the toughest career paths for sleeping is the trucking industry.
According to a national survey, the average truck driver accounts for approximately 5 hours of sleep per night. This is less than the average 8-hour sleep cycle. The primary cause for this is due to their shipping schedule.
Due to the deregulated nature of the job, truckers have an irregular delivery schedule. When a trucker takes a week-long delivery trip, they have to account for everything. What time they will be able to stop for food/bathrooms break, to when they will be able to sleep. They sometimes have to plan this out days in advance. Sometimes a trucker needs to make a delivery a 2 am, 4 am, and 5 am. That means they need to drive through the night, make those deliveries and then get as much sleep as they can before they are required to pick up another haul.
The go-to for most truckers used to be coffee. That sweet-bean injection would be a handy assistant for those on long-term hauls. Now, we have an entire gas station section devoted to keeping drivers awake. I remember my first cross-country trip. My backseat was littered with empty energy drink cans and fast-food wrappers. I also remember how unhealthy I felt as soon as I got to my destination. The diet of many truck drivers is more of an “I need this now” vs “I need to think healthy for my future”. Even after 8 hours of sleep, an unhealthy diet can make you feel sick or tired.
Even after you have finished your shipment for the day, you need to find a place to park your truck to get whatever sleep you can get. Most truck stops are filled by nightfall and if you aren’t one of the lucky ones to get a spot, then you are stuck driving until you find one. This takes away from your precious sleep time and will greatly lessen the amount that you can get.
Who doesn’t love sleep? It’s a basic function that we, as living breathing human beings, require in order to survive. Having delivery schedules that take away from this is a consistent part of the job. To think that the industry is in a recession for filling driver slots is an understatement. This is just one of many factors as to why many companies are having a hard time finding long-term and effective drivers. They want their sleep.