Well I guess working the graveyard shift is getting a little easier. At least I’m sleeping more in the days now thanks to just being totally exhausted by the first few weeks of it….and thanks to wearing an eye-mask to keep out the sunlight.
But the whole thing still feels weird; it’s really strange feeling awake at two a.m. rather than feeling strung out. It can’t be good for my health and I reckon i’ll have to look for a day job as soon as I have enough experience in order to be more employable.
It’s become apparent that I’m not the only one though – I see tired drivers everywhere and it’s scary to watch, especially on roads like the A1 where often there is no run-off or central reservation and there’s trucks parked up in every layby. I was following a Tesco wagon the other night and I could just see him (or her) getting tireder and tireder. As the miles went by his weaves were getting more and more pronounced until he was weaving from lane one into lane two then back to the rumble strip over and over again. It was with great relief I saw him eventually pull off into some services.
Ever noticed how sleeping trampers always pull right as far as they can into laybys, usually parked right up next to the hedge? Now I can see why – coming back to Worksop the other night I was behind another weaving wagon. Just as we went past a layby full of sleeping trucks he weaved right into the layby and back out. There was a 7.5 tonner parked right where he swang in. If the little wagon wasn’t right up to the hedge it would have been a horrible crash.
There must be hundreds of close calls like this every night – working un-natural hours combined with the hypnotic effect of following the same set of tail-lights for hours and been blinded by oncoming lights obviously has a negative effect on driver skill. Apparently The hours between four and six a.m. produce the most fall asleep incidents and I find this to be accurate for myself – around four a.m. is when I really struggle.
The only real solutions i’ve found to work are a shit load of coffee and taking small naps when I start to feel myself drifting. Chewing gum also seems to help for some reason. Things like opening the window, singing to yourself, and all the other suggested staying-awake strategies only work for a really short term in my experience. I guess It’s better to get off the road, get your head down and arrive ten minutes late rather than finding yourself trying to steer thirty tonnes whilst fighting a strong urge to sleep.