Sleep can often be a scarce commodity on the road for a truck driver. With long hours that often require overnight travel, many truckers find sleep elusive and may be tempted to reach for sleeping medications to get a bit of shuteye. But before you reach for any medication, consider these natural alternatives for a restful slumber.
A person who works during the day and goes to sleep at night naturally produces a hormone called melatonin that helps us feel sleepy so we can doze off. Unfortunately, if you’re consistently driving at odd hours of the day or doing a lot of driving at night then you’ve probably messed up your body’s ability to produce melatonin at the right times.
Luckily, you can give your body a bit of a helping hand by supplementing with melatonin for short periods of time. You can buy melatonin in fast-release and extended-release forms depending on your needs. Just remember to start with a low dosage so you don’t have a hard time waking up or become groggy.
It’s time to ditch your daily double-double and opt for a soothing herbal tea instead. Yes, coffee does seem to be a staple for many truckers, but if you’re having a hard time sleeping, know that coffee isn’t doing you any favors.
The best herbal tea for relaxation is by far a chamomile blend. Just keep a box of bagged chamomile in your truck and either pick up hot water going through your local coffee stop or brew it in your cab for convenience. Typically, the stronger the tea the more effective it is, so if you can handle a cup of chamomile made with 2-3 bags then go for it.
If you’re really having a tough time sleeping and nothing else seems to be working, you may want to consider valerian root. This plant has a long history of being used to treat anxiety and depression, but it’s a great tonic for insomnia as well.
It’s important to be aware that valerian can have a powerful effect on the body, and you’ll definitely want to start with a low dose and increase depending on your individual needs. And just like melatonin, you’ll want to cut your use of valerian root before it becomes a chronic and long-term habit in case your body becomes dependent on it. Try to limit your consistent use of valerian root to under 6 weeks to avoid creating a dependency.
If you really want to get your body into a state of relaxation for better sleep, then you have to start with mindfulness. Maybe your mind is constantly thinking about your next destination or the state of your load… whatever it is, you have a hard time relaxing enough to fall asleep.
If this sounds like you, then dry deep breathing exercises, meditation, or listening to calming music to get your mind to wind down after what may have been a stressful day on the road.
You don’t have to let insomnia control your life as a trucker. Just try any one of these natural remedies and you’ll be sleeping like a baby before you know it!