We’ve all been there. Driving for too long or too late into the night, eyelids slowly drooping downwards, difficulty focusing on the road. Drowsy driving, characterized by lapses in attention and slowed reaction times, is extremely dangerous. And trying to push through and ignore this feeling is definitely not going to make it safer. If you find yourself falling asleep at the wheel, do yourself and other drivers a favor by waking yourself up with these five simple tricks:
Pull over and take a nap.
It doesn’t have to be a long one! A quick nap of 20 minutes can help give your body the essential rest that it needs to recharge so that you can stay awake and alert. You may think that getting to your destination faster is more important, but don’t rush and deprive your body of the sleep it needs. You might wake up a bit groggy, but after a few minutes, you’ll be experiencing higher levels of alertness and motor function.
This goes for before and during your drive. Food is the source of your body’s energy, so don’t bog it down with fast food or convenience store goodies. Have a pre-drive meal of lean protein, veggies, and whole grains, for sustained energy. And make sure to grab something nutritious like fruit or nuts to perk you up while driving, but pay attention to the portion size. Large meals can make you tired, and candy, cookies, and other sugary snacks will only give you a short burst of energy before ultimately making you crash.
Pull over, get out of your car, and do some jumping jacks. Or go for a quick jog on the side of the road. Who cares if you look silly? You need to keep your blood flowing if you’re sitting and driving for long periods of time. You should take a break every 100 miles, or every two hours, to do something stimulating. This could include stopping for that healthy snack or just moving around a bit to get your energy levels up.
Staying hydrated is key to avoiding sleepiness, so make sure to drink lots of water when you’re driving long distances. If you stop at a gas station, use the soda fountain to fill up your bottle with ice water; that way you can also chew on the ice to help keep you awake. Still in need of an extra perk? While excessive amounts of coffee can actually cause you to crash later on, one or two cups can provide caffeine to keep you alert for several hours.
Listen to something. Better yet, jam out.
Try putting on some pump-up music to liven your mood, which can, in turn, affect your fatigue levels. If you’re feeling really drowsy, research shows that cranking the volume up to 90 decibels can help jolt you awake, disrupting your sleep patterns. Or you could listen to an audiobook or podcast, to give yourself something interesting to focus on and distract yourself from the on-setting fatigue.
Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to keeping our viewers accident-free, which is why we initiated the Drive Safe campaign. Steer clear of danger with our monthly tips.