Avoiding Drowsiness on the Road

We all know that when you are feeling exhausted, like you can't keep your eyes open, that you are not safe to be on the road. Pull over, swap with your passenger, make a call, but don't drive as you're nodding off.  And when you're already sleepy, the white noise of the car on the road makes things much worse.  But sometimes you haven't quite reached that level of tiredness, and you just need to make sure you keep your mind alert and engaged so you don't get to that point before reaching your destination. These tips aren't failsafe, so make sure to watch out for signs that you've crossed into dangerous territory. Long, slow, frequent blinks, spacey memory (whoa, I do not remember passing those last three exits!), daydreaming, trouble keeping your head up, or drifting into the shoulder rumble strips, all signal that you should not be the one behind the wheel.

 

1.      PLAN.

If you know you've got a nighttime trip, try to nap during the day. Don't drink alcohol before getting on the road - even a small amount can make you feel more tired.

 

2.      Eat something healthy.

It's really tempting to go for a sugar fix to keep you pumping, but when you're tired, it's not the right kind of energy to keep your mind focused, and the crash will come quickly, making you feel even worse, and fat and salt make you groggy too. Go for protein and complex carbs.

 

3.      Hydrate.

Not necessarily with caffeine - again, this isn't the kind of stimulant you're going for. Water is actually the best thing to avoid road fatigue. And yes, guzzling water will probably make you feel like you need to stop and pee more often, but those breaks to get up and walk - as well as the feeling of needing to pee, will keep you from getting too drowsy.

 

4.      Make a smart audio choice.

What gets your adrenaline pumping? Dance music you can bop along with? Power ballads you can belt out? Scary novels that get your mind racing? The goal here is to engage your brain.

 

5.      Burst of fresh air.

It's a myth that keeping the windows open will prevent you from getting too groggy. However, periodically opening the windows for a burst of fresh air - especially if it's cooler outside than in the car - can help.


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