Truck drivers must deal with unusual driving schedules and erratic sleep habits. Whether they get paid by the mile, by the hour, or by how much work is done, staying awake and alert is critical to productivity and safety. We put together some tips to help over the road drivers maintain the best habits.

Nap when you can

It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel after a short 20-minute nap. If you need a couple of these a day, we’d encourage you to take them. A nap boosts your alertness and can improve motor performance, according to Sleep.org. A 20-minute snooze can help you recharge, but be careful about anything from 20 to 90 minutes as you might end up groggy.

Fend off exhaustion

Don’t push yourself when you’re already tired. You need sleep. If you start to feel tired, try to get that nap in there or just turn in for the night early. Going to bed exhausted can affect the quality of your sleep and recovery. Bedtime procrastination can result in insufficient sleep and REM cycles.

Food can make a difference

Avoid driving on an overly full stomach. Imagine that feeling you get after your Thanksgiving feast. It’s not good to feel that way when you’re on the road as you’ll want to sleep. If you haven’t eaten in a while, consider a light snack to boost your energy levels. Healthy snacks that mix protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates can help you keep consistent energy.

What about caffeine?

A cup of coffee can give you a nice boost when necessary, but beware overdoing it! Large-sized energy drinks and too much coffee can have the opposite effect of what you’re going after. Common symptoms of too much caffeine can include nervousness and interference of restful sleep. You might also experience anxiety, stomach pain, and diarrhea, so try to keep it at an even keel.

Exercise is king

Walking for as little as a half an hour can greatly benefit your health and sleep patterns. Walking improves your circulation, stretches your muscles, and improves your mental health … for free! Truck drivers can take control of their overall health by getting creative with their exercise habits. Walking, running, a quick set of calisthenics, or a gym membership might be just the ticket, and trust us when we say you’ll sleep like a baby at night.