How to Avoid Falling Asleep While Driving

Falling asleep while driving is something that all the car drivers encountered in their life. We don’t expect sleepiness to overtake us when we drive. But, it’s something that you don’t have total control over it.

In the USA alone, 100,000 motor-vehicle crashes and 1,500 people die per year due to drowsiness while driving. Among the crashes, 71,000 of them are non-fatal, and over 6,000 of them are fatal injuries. Never in a blue moon, you want anything similar to these stats ever happen to you.

Thankfully, there are some useful tips that help drivers to stay awake when they drive. Let’s see those tips and try to follow them properly. Click To Tweet

How Does Drowsiness Effect Driving?

A person doesn’t fall asleep instantly. Slow reaction times and lapses in attention come before falling asleep. Although it might seem that driving is a pretty easy and small task, the driver has to make lots of important split decisions as the car accelerates.

Even if you are awake, drowsiness doesn’t let the brain function optimally to take care of those critical decisions. Due to this reason, drowsy drivers cannot judge incidents that occur on the road, which leads to crashes.

Know When It’s Time to Pull Over

On many occasions, we think that we are ready to drive. But, in reality, driving in those conditions can lead to severe consequences. Here are some signs that tell when you must pull the vehicle over –

  • When it gets hard to focus, heavy eyelids, frequent blinking
  • You cannot remember the miles you drove
  • Keep on missing exits and traffic signs
  • Repeated yawning and rubbing eyes
  • Difficult to keep the head up
  • When you drift from the lane, tailgate, and hit a shoulder rumble strip
  • You feel restless and irritable

If you see any of the above signs happening to you, it’s a must to pull over the car to a safe place. Then, turn the car off, lock the doors, and take a relaxing nap for about 15 to 20 minutes. You will feel refreshed after the nap, then can proceed to the destination safely.

How to Stay Awake While Driving

Follow these tips responsibly to reach your destination safely –

Take a Nap

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Need Sound Sleep

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In most cases, when people go on a long trip, they fall asleep while driving. If there is a long trip coming ahead, and you know the time, make sure you take a 20 to 30 minutes nap before holding the steering. If possible, sleep well a few hours before the trip.

But still, if you fall asleep while driving, be sure to pull over to a safe place and take a 20 minutes nap before hitting the road again.

Limit the Consumption of Foods and Drinks

You shouldn’t have a heavy meal before going on a long trip. Also, avoid sugary foods as they will cause reactive hypoglycemia, which can lead to a solid crash.

Alcohol? Yes, if you want to find yourself lying in a hospital.

Drink Coffee

Who doesn’t know caffeine’s ability to prevent sleep? Consuming too much caffeine can cause sleep deprivation. If you are already falling asleep just before hitting the road, consume it at the beginning. However, if there is no sign of sleepiness, save the coffee and consume it later when you are on the way.

However, the effects of caffeine wear off after a few hours. So, be wise regarding the timing.

Having Energy Inducing Foods

Snacking can come very beneficial while you drive. If you keep the mouth busy, it will not yawn for sure. Take some foods that are easy to pop in your mouth while driving. It shouldn’t disturb your driving.

You can have chia seeds, blueberries, orange slices, apple slices, pumpkin seeds, popcorn, etc. that are easy to put in the mouth. Bottled water, as well as sugar-free electrolyte drinks, can also enhance your energy levels.

Consider Your Circadian Rhythms

You also need to consider the circadian rhythms, which is more of your body clock. The cycle tells you when to wake up, eat, and sleep. Your circadian rhythms and driving duration have significant effects on the fatigue levels.

Go for the long drives earlier in the day if it’s possible. Fatigue levels increase in most people between 2 am and 4 am and between 2 pm and 4 pm. It’s more likely that you should avoid 2 am to 4 am slot. But, you might need to consider your state in the late afternoon if you have been driving since AM.

Naturally, our body detects the time between midnight and early morning as sleeping hours. Driving within this slot is very dangerous. If you have to drive at night, make sure you split the trip and spend part of the night in a hotel.

The Buddy Switch

It’s highly recommended to take a partner on long trips who can also drive. If you are lucky to get one, be sure to switch the timings between you and your buddy in every two hours. One can take a nap when another one is driving, if necessary.

Also, you can exchange conversation between your buddy, which reduces drowsiness to some extent.

It seems that driving faster without giving any breaks will reach you to the destination quickly.

But what if anything wrong happens in the road? Isn’t it better to reach the destination safe rather than reaching on time?

Periodically give some breaks; it will keep you more alert while driving.

Medications If you need to take medication that causes dizziness and drowsiness, then you shouldn’t hit the road in the first place for a long trip.

Things You Shouldn’t Do

People say that opening the window, talking on the phone, cranking loud music help you to stay awake while driving. Even though these things seem like they work, in reality, this stuff will distract you from driving, which might lead to dangerous consequences.

Driving is something that requires your 100% attention. So, anything that distracts you from driving even for a few moments cannot be a solution to this problem.

Final Words

Driving with drowsiness is very dangerous, and it can cost your life and your loved ones. Make sure you take a nap before hitting the road or in the middle of the trip. It’s best if you take someone with you who will take care of driving when you need to take some rest or have to sleep for hours.

More importantly, don’t drink at all. Most of the fatal road accidents happen due to alcohol consumption. Have a safe journey.


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