One of the trucking industry’s strategies for trying to make sure long-distance truck drivers get sufficient sleep may be enhanced by new research on sleeping arrangements in truck cabs.

Companies often assign drivers in pairs, so that one can sleep while the other drives. However, sleeping in a noisy, moving vehicle, does not provide the same restful sleep as a stationary bed in a quiet room. The resulting fatigue can affect work performance and health, as inadequate sleep contributes to chronic health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Mattresses, seats being studied

A new collaborative research study at the Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Washington1 takes a two-pronged approach to the problem. The Tech4Rest Study is looking at the effects of an enhanced truck cab and a behavioral sleep health program on truck drivers’ sleep habits. For the enhanced truck cab, researchers are testing the sleep effects of a therapeutic mattress system and an active suspension seat to reduce whole body vibrations during driving and sleep periods. The behavioral sleep health program, Fit4Sleep, currently is testing different interventions, including physical activity, sleep training, and health coaching.

That approach is consistent with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Total Worker Health® Program, which strives to protect workers by considering the whole spectrum of influences on worker safety and health. In addition to tangible work-related risks, such as handling hazardous chemicals or operating heavy machinery, these influences extend far beyond the workplace to the worker’s home and community. They include wages, workload, and stress, as well as the relationships between workers and employers, and even adequate sleep.

Funding for Tech4Rest is provided by a NIOSH grant and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Grants Program.

More information is available: