Staying well rested is a critical part of keeping safe on the road. Turns out, it’s also critical for your body’s overall health. New research indicates that proper rest has more impact on your long-term health prospects than we ever knew before.

So how can you ensure you’re getting proper rest on a long haul? Earlier this year, we offered some tips for a good night’s sleep. Turns out, sleeping at night isn’t the only way to get the benefits of good rest. Your mom was right: taking a nap is good for you too.

Good Sleep Offers More Than Alertness

When you get a good night’s sleep, it’s your body’s chance to replenish after a long, hard day. When you’re driving, your body tenses, your mind races. When you sleep, your body relaxes and your mind has a chance to rest. New research suggests that during the day, your brain is also filling up with toxins, known as neurotoxins. Scientists used to think those neurotoxins were dealt with slowly throughout the day, but now it looks like they just build up while you’re awake, and then your body does a daily cleanse of them as you sleep.

That’s a huge change from the way we used to view sleep. If the brain doesn’t have enough time to flush these toxins, they can accumulate and become harmful, potentially increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and other illnesses. Scientists estimate it takes six to eight hours to flush all of those neurotoxins out of your brain, so your mom was right when she told you to get eight hours of sleep too!

Naps Can Help

It’s one thing to say get a good night’s sleep, but let’s face it, there are some days when it’s really hard to get full six to eight hours of sleep. Fortunately, research suggests napping can help too. A twenty to thirty-minute nap is enough to increase alertness and memory function, and a sixty to ninety-minute nap is even better. Of course, napping can’t replace a deep, nighttime sleep. But it can be the perfect thing to keep you alert and healthy on those long hauls – and to keep you that way long after the trip is over.

So listen to your mom and take naps when you need them. To learn more strategies for staying healthy and productive on the road, or to start the search for your next trucking job, contact a CDS specialist today.