In the UK, late autumn to early spring is a period of short days and cold temperatures.  These are challenging conditions for drivers, especially HGV drivers.  It’s vital that drivers stay alert when they are on the road.  Here are some tips to help.

Actively monitor your body’s signals

Variety may be the spice of life, but your body craves routine.  Unfortunately, it’s often very hard for HGV drivers to get this when they’re working.  In particular, rest breaks usually happen when the law says they need to happen.  This may or may not be when your body wants them to happen.

There are ways to manage this and they start with monitoring your body’s signals.  That means you are alerted to a potential issue before it becomes a problem.  You may then be able to address it while still on the move.  If not, you may be able to give yourself a bit more control over when and where exactly you pull over.

Keep your vital nutrients topped up

Eating healthily has always been a challenge for HGV drivers.  With COVID19 closing so many facilities, it’s become even more difficult.  Realistically, you’re just going to have to manage your main meals as best as you can.  Since this may not be particularly well, you might want to look at supplementing them in some way.

Depending on your route and needs, this may be as simple as making sure you take dried, healthy snacks with you.  For example, nuts and seeds are very nutritious and easy to carry.  Dried fruit can be a bit more questionable since it is often high in sugar.  If, however, you stay aware of this, it can be a good option.

You might even want to consult your doctor about taking a multivitamin and/or iron supplement.  These are not really intended to compensate for a poor diet.  Under the circumstances, however, they may be a pragmatic, short-term option.

Watch your hydration

In cold weather, people often want hot drinks.  A lot of hot drinks contain caffeine.  This includes coffee, tea and even hot chocolate.  Drinks which are marketed as “decaffeinated” may actually have some caffeine in them.  They’ll just have smaller amounts.

Depending on your metabolism, caffeine can take 4-6 hours to work its way through your body.  Keep this in mind when deciding what to drink when.  You might even want to hit the road prepared with some decaffeinated/low-caffeine drinks of your own.  That way you’ll be able to get a sleep-friendly hot beverage anywhere you can get hot water.

Get out of your cab

When it’s cold outside, it can be very tempting just to spend your rest breaks in your cab (or in any facility you can find).  This is understandable but fresh air, sunlight and exercise really are good for you.  At the very least, they get your blood flowing and stimulate your body’s systems after long hours in the cab.

You don’t have to keep exercise for rest periods.  Try to wiggle your toes as much as you can.  When your HGV is at a standstill, e.g. at traffic lights, stamp your feet.  Basically, you’re trying to keep blood flowing to your lower legs and feet.  You might want to wear DVT socks to help with this.

Take your own sleep pack

Take along any creature comforts which help you to get a good night’s sleep.  These could be practical, like some extra blankets, an eye mask and earplugs.  They could, however, just be little luxuries you appreciate like some decent bedtime reading or audiobooks.  The key point is to help your body and mind to wind down and ease into sleep.

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