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Become a pro at power naps

Roger has been a freight locomotive engineer since 1978. He is 55 years old.

Last night, I went to bed at 9 PM. This morning, I got up at 6 AM. If, as I hope, I go to work at 4 PM today, I'm fine. Suppose my train is delayed until 6 PM, and then, 8 PM, or later? How do I prepare for that?

Here's another common scenario: I get in at 6 AM. I'm told I'll probably leave again at midnight. I go shopping, and take care of chores. I go to sleep at noon. Then they call me at 4 PM.

We sometimes joke, "If you want to get called for the railroad, just go to bed, or make plans." The railroad needs people 24/7. People who stick with railroad work get used to the schedules. Some adopt habits that are bad for their health, though. Some drink a lot of coffee. Some smoke.

Some snack on junk food. I used to do that. Four years ago, I weighed 240 lbs. I changed my diet, and started working out. Now I take beef jerky and fruit for snacks. It took a year to drop 40 lbs. I now weigh about 192 lbs. I have been able to maintain this weight.

When I have to sleep in the daytime, I turn off the phone, and wear earplugs and a sleep mask. I prefer to get my main sleep at night, when possible. With my schedule, I often carry a sleep debt for several days. I try to make it up on my days off.

My wife and I share a bedroom. She may get up before I do in the morning. Little noises don't bother me.

I've become a pro at taking 20-minute power naps. A nap will recharge me for a couple of hours. If you pull into a siding, you may be there from a few minutes to an hour or more. Usually, the dispatcher can tell you how long you'll be there. If you're allowed to nap, take a nap.

I tell the young guys, 'Sleep when you can.'

-Roger, locomotive engineer