Night driving. How do you stay awake?

I’m currently half way through covering for a night driver who’s off for two weeks.
Start at 6pm. Two round trips; one of 50 minutes each way, the other 1:15 each way. With all the time spent loading, unloading, queuing and trailer swaps, I finish about 4am - 5am.
I’m naturally an early morning person, I have no trouble getting up for work at 3am. I’ve always struggled with late nights though.
I’ve tried sleeping as soon as I get in and having the afternoon as free time, or staying awake when I get home, then sleeping in the afternoon. It doesn’t make any difference.
A flask of coffee helps. I don’t normally drink it, so I probably get more benefit than someone who drinks it regularly and has built up a resistance would.
Getting out of the cab and doing press ups in a layby at 3am helps as well. :slight_smile:

I’m not in danger of nodding off at the wheel, it’s not like I’m regularly getting woken up by the rumble strips, I could just do with some tips to make it easier.

Tbh mate I don’t think there is anything you can do. Every night job I’ve had I’ve always struggled and I’m not a morning person at all I cant get up for the life of me.

My last job I managed to get an hour or two sleep in the cab while on break/waiting which helped until I got home but made me feel like crap when I got up.

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Routine is what makes it easier and two weeks is not long enough for that, you never get use to it zombie life

As above. I’ve done nights for most of the last 20 years. Went onto days in July, came back on to nights a few weeks ago and it still took me 2 weeks to flip back to nights.

I do the go to sleep when I get in but as my finish times can vary from 1.30am-6am I tend to stay up until around 4-5 if I’ve had an early finish and given without an alarm clock I’m getting up at roughly the same time in an afternoon now it seems to be working better than just going straight to bed as I used to in the past.

Nothing is going to make it easier. You are either a day man, or a night man, naturally. As has already been said, 2 weeks isn’t long enough really to train your body to the other way of working. Best thing is to get as much rest time in at your drops I reckon.

Never go straight to bed give your self at least an hour to wind down

Luckily, there are a few other drivers from our yard who also work nights, we tend to give each other a call through the night, it’s just talking mince, but it helps.

Done nights for almost 23 yrs its routine if you can on the 1st day grab a kip in the afternoon that’ll set you up but come your rest days you’ll be trying to go back to days, DON’T , if you do try and have an afternoon kip just to keep you in that window.

You’ll find that your meal times will play a major part in how you manage working at different times of day/ night. If you want to alter your sleeping routine then you also need to adapt all your other routines to fit.

Luckily, there are a few other drivers from our yard who also work nights, we tend to give each other a call through the night, it’s just talking mince, but it helps.

:open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:
i hope your not driving at the same time otherwise the trucknet holier than though brigade that do no wrong will be frowning upon you from a great height :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:

drink a can of coke in 1 go…
when your driving flat out,hold a bottle of water into your eye and tip it up keeping your eye open…then repeat with the other eye…itl keep you wakened for a good while,then talk ■■■■■ on the mobile to someone you want to annoy.the wave of sleep will have work off again.
have a right good argument shouting out loud with the mealy mouthed condescending voiced ■■■■■ on a satnav helps,as does disco dancing jumping up and down in your seat singing and shouting out loud… :slight_smile:

Did nights a few years back and would never do it again.
Reckon some can handle it and some cannot.
Main thing is as you say you would never drop off whilst driving.
Also the older you get the harder it is.
Pros and Cons but never again for me.

I always found that the horn blasts from other motorists when I drifted into their lane or side of the road usually woke me up in plenty of time. I could usually get a few sneaky power naps in

I’m the complete opposite. I hate getting up early. Love working nights though. I’ll never do days if I don’t have too.

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I tried nights briefly many years ago, and could not hack it.
It was the sleeping through the day that was the problem, both at home and in the truck.
It was when the sun come up in the morning that got to me,
I felt like ■■■■, and needed to pull in for a kip…■■■■ the schedule and delivery time, I was NOT going to drive tired… end of, and risk ploughing up the truck and myself.

Take an AC/DC cd with you mate, and do full on Mway headbanging when you feel tired…worked for me. :smiley:

Thanks for the replies. I used to be a mechanic in a bus garage with alternate weeks of early starts or late finishes so I’m used to sleeping or eating at odd times.
I’ve always laughed at people who stagger around in the morning, bleary eyed, needing three cups of coffee before they can even string a simple sentence together, while I can just jump out bed and go. It’s the other way round late at night though.

Singing along with the radio is another one that helps.
Unfortunately, it’s not the sort of queuing where you park up and wait to get called on to a bay, it’s sitting in a real queue and shuffling forward until you’re at the front, so no chance of a nap there.

If I could get used to it, I think I’d prefer nights. The driving itself is a lot easier with less traffic on the road and I’ve always liked having daylight hours at home, rather than a day job and evening at home.
I’ve noticed I’m always wide awake immediately after shutting the curtains or swapping a trailer, so as the schedule’s pretty slack, (I get to my second drop an hour early and don’t need to back to my home yard before 5am), there’s always time for a quick stop in a layby to get out in to the cold air and do something physical to wake myself up. Of course, if I didn’t keep stopping, it would be a shorter night and I’d be home earlier.
I haven’t had any near misses yet caused by tiredness, so I’ll stick at it another week, then see if I think I could do it long term.

It was when the sun come up in the morning that got to me,
I felt like [zb], and needed to pull in for a kip…[zb] the schedule and delivery time, I was NOT going to drive tired… end of, and risk ploughing up the truck and myself.

Still does that to this day for me. This time of year I have no problem driving until I’ve got back to the yard because its dark but when it starts getting lighter in the morning, especially once it starts getting to before 5am, I find that as soon as it starts getting noticably light I feel dog tired so I just pull over for a quick 15 minute nap whilst it gets a lot brighter and I’m good to go again.

I’ll be the same tomorrow when I’m doing a one off day run so I’ll be stopping on the way down to my first drop around 7.

Luckily, there are a few other drivers from our yard who also work nights, we tend to give each other a call through the night, it’s just talking mince, but it helps.

We do a lot of nights, but tend to be different runs, so the variety helps with the boredom,
I have worked out of 3 different depots this week, and that was pretty good,

there are usually 2 or 3 of my blokes on, so we call each other & talk bollox, that certainly helps & makes the shift go quicker.

I’m a night tramper so I know how difficult it can be. 2 weeks is not really enough time to adjust to a routine or even find a routine that suits you. I’ve been driving nights for years and did years of nights in factories before that so I’m fairly accustomed to it.

My start times vary wildly and can be anything from 11am to midnight but most are in the 2-5pm ball park. Last week for example I was doing 3pm to 2am. This week it’ll be 6pm to 7am.

Sunday night I’ll stay up quite late and sleep as late as possible. Bed about 4am and sleep till dinner time. When I finish at 7am I’ll have been up for about 18-19 hours so I’ll be quite tired. I’ll try and get to sleep by about 8am and sleep for approx 7 hours. I’ll set an alarm then every day for about 3pm so I get into a routine. I like to feel tired as I finish work. Nothing worse than lying in a truck in the blazing heat and all the noise not being able to sleep. I avoid sleeping mid shift unless absolutely necessary.

Ear plugs are a must.

Switching back to days is the killer. I messed up yesterday. Wen to bed at 8am and set my alarm for 12. Was so tired I don’t even remember turning the alarm off. Eventually came round at 4pm. Oops, awake till 8:30 this morning, didn’t even bother going to bed. managed to get up at 12 though so should be good to sleep tonight.

I used to do a sort of split shift, start at around 5am until around 9.30-10am and then go home until 10 or 11 pm and then work through until around 3am. Nip home with the truck for an hour or two, or get my head down in the cab in the quarry waiting for the tar plant to start up, and then load at 5am again and work until mid morning and then return home and do much the same again. Trying to kip in the daytime was hard though, daylight and noisy neighbours didn’t help matters and I never really got used to it. I suppose those on permanent nights get into a routine (brother in law has done it for twenty+ years as a bus fitter and he could sleep through an earthquake!) but it didn’t suit me. I did enjoy working nights though as it was a lot quieter on the roads and, being on road resurfacing, I did more sitting around than actual driving so never felt tired.


The secret to working any shift at all - is to get out of bed no more than 3 hours before starting work.

If you get up at Noon, thinking that will get you through the night to 6am - you’ll be knackered around 3am instead. Not good.

I get up at 3pm for a 6pm start, or 8pm for a 10pm start (no rush hour traffic to allow extra time to get in for)

Even then - I am totally knackered around the 8am mark, should I get stuck at the dartford crossing for instance, and then not make it back to base by the “normal” finish time of around 6am.

When on a night shift - I don’t drink coffee, but do drink lucozade. I don’t eat savory snacks, but do eat choc bars.

Kept me alive and kept my clean licence for 25 years now, so I guess I’m doing something right. It works for me in any case. :wink: