You spend more nights in your big rig than you do in your bed at home. So shouldn’t your truck sleeper offer you more than just a place to rest your head? For truckers who are tired, literally, of sleeping in a standard sleeper there are options. Custom sleepers provide exactly that, custom sleep options that better accommodate your needs. Whether you want a mattress that is fit for a prince or a kitchenette that qualifies for rock star status, you can upgrade your sleeper as such. However, FMCSA regulations dictate how you can set up a custom sleeper.
First of all, if you own your rig and you do not use your sleeper compartment as a sleeper berth, then you don’t have to equip it as such. This means you could tear out that bed and replace it with whatever you want. A full-scale entertainment station? A gourmet style mini-kitchen? Your very own shower and toilet over the road? It’s all up to you. Of course you’ll have to find somewhere else to sleep, but for truckers who work part-time and have the luxury of sleeping in hotels when the haul, it’s an option.
As for the size requirements according to 49 CFR 393.76 sleeper berths installed in truckers since 1975 must be at least:
- 75 inches in length as measured from the center along the longitudinal axis
- 24 inches wide as measured along the transverse axis
- 24 inches height as measured at the highest point of the mattress
It must be rectangular in shape. However, the corners including those on the roof can be rounded. But this rounding cannot be more than a 10.5 inch radii. The sleeper must be accessible for entry and exit by the driver. The opening has to be at least 18 inches tall by 36 inches wide.
The sleeper cannot be attached on or in a semitrailer. So you can’t tow or haul your sleeper, it has be a part of your tractor. It has to be located in the cargo space of the tractor, as well as attached to the cab.
In the sleeper you must provide the following for sleeping:
- A mattress that is either a mattress with box springs, an innerspring mattress, a foam mattress at least 4 inches thick, or a mattress filled with fluid or gel that can hold its shape
- Sheets and blankets
Finally, the sleeper has to be well ventilated and sealed from rain, dust or diesel exhaust. It must also be equipped with an occupant restraint, aka a sleeper seatbelt, to protect team drivers from slinging their companion around while driving.
Dealing with Authorized Providers
Before you invest in a new sleeper that best meets your sleeping needs, make sure you are dealing with the experts. The manufacturer should be well versed in the FMCSA regulations and guidelines. Do your research and work with authorized designers and vendors before putting down a chunk of cash. Otherwise you could be in violation of DOT inspection rules, as well as stuck with a sleeper that is not going to give you the good night’s sleep you’ve been dreaming of.
Basics of Customized Sleepers
If you go to a custom truck sleeper manufacturer, such as Bolt Custom Trucks, you can get quite a lot of for your sleeper space. Top amenities offered include a sleeper exterior that is designed with aerodynamics in mind. These sleeper cabs are fashioned for fuel economy, which is always a bonus in a trucker’s mind. As for perks for the inside of a sleeper these vary but can include:
- TV and DVD player setup along with a video gaming console and audio system with additional wireless internet or cable hookups
- Kitchenette with a cook top for a stove, microwave, refrigerator and freezer
- Custom built cabinetry to add storage throughout your space
- A dining room table with bucket benches
- A shower and toilet, which is a dream for most over the road truck drivers
- A fully functional sink for washing hands and food preparation
These sleeper designs upgrade a regular old rig into something more akin to an RV or motor home. For truckers who drive on team driving jobs with their spouse or partner, this is an ideal situation for a home away from home.
Owning or Leasing a Truck
In order to take advantage of these options you need to be an owner or leasing-to-own your truck. If you are a company driver for a business, such as Island Transportation or Olsen & Fielding Mayflower, you may not have the option of upgrading your rig. However, there are always exceptions to the rule. Check with your trucking employer to find out if upgrading your sleeper would be within reason. Of course you are likely going to have to shell out for the expense. Yet for many truck drivers who live in their semis the benefits are well worth the cost.