Fatigue Kills

Fatigue Kills

You cannot fight nature, so just work with it. Our bodies work in 24-25 hour cycles of sleeping, eating and being active.  Worst time of the day is midnight to 6 AM.  You are naturally drowsy after lunch—it has nothing to do with what you eat, but it may be made worse if you eat fatty or sugary foods.  Want to determine when you will be most drowsy?  Determine what time you went to bed and what time you woke up.  What is the mid point?  Add 12 hours and you know when to expect a real dip in alertness. Be ready for it.  Fatigue is just as deadly on a rig as it is when driving.

Sleep Debt Is Like Money Debt … you can’t ignore it.  More than 90% of people need 8.5-11.5 hours of sleep each night.  If you miss this, you need to make it up quickly.  The good news is that you don’t have to make it all up—if you miss 2 hours a day for 10 days you don’t need to sleep for 20 hours to make it up. A couple of early nights may fix it.

What Makes Fatigue Worse?


  • Driving long distances without rest breaks
  • Driving through the night, the early afternoon, or at other times when your body wants to be asleep
  • Driving alone on long boring roads
  • Repetitive tasks at work
  • Not getting adequate rest prior to your first hitch after days off or not getting adequate rest during days off
  • Working shifts and not getting adequate rest when working night shift.


  • Taking medication that increases sleepiness or drinking alcohol can contribute to fatigue
  • People with bad sleep habits. Sleep during the day is not as effective as sleep during the night. You need more daytime sleep to have the same effect as a good night’s sleep.
  • Poor diet—too many sugars and fats, not enough fresh food, eating late or irregularly;
  • Dehydration—your body needs around 8 glasses of water every day. (Not Soft drinks, coffee, or tea).

If you do these things, then look at your habits and lifestyle to see what changes you can make to reduce your own fatigue.

You Know You Are Fatigued When You…

  • Can’t remember the last few miles/minutes
  • Have disconnected thoughts, can’t concentrate and keep yawning
  • Can’t control your eyes (they keep shutting and going out of focus)
  • Miss traffic signs or tailgate accidentally
  • Have trouble keeping your head up
  • Keep jerking your vehicle back in lane
  • You mumble or mix up your words
  • Are irritable and easily angered

The only way to beat fatigue: Catch up on your sleep debt. Get a few early nights.  Improve your diet habits so that your blood sugar stays more constant.  Get into regular sleep and wake patterns.  Understand your personal circadian rhythm and work with it

Myths about Beating Fatigue

Coffee can help you stay awake.  False.  Stimulants are no substitute for sleep—they just make you feel more alert for a short time.  If you are sleep-deprived, you will still have micro sleeps even drinking coffee. Micro sleeps (nodding off) can last 3-5 seconds and can kill you if you’re driving.  It takes around 30 minutes for caffeine to affect your system.  It’s better to take a power nap.

I can’t nap.  False.  Research shows that even people who say they are not tired will fall asleep in a darkened room.  If you think you can’t sleep, recline the seat and lie down for 15 minutes anyway.  You may be surprised.  Remember to lock your doors and make sure the vehicle is ventilated.

Fatigue… It can put you to rest permanently.