Have you ever considered the impact that drowsiness can have on driver safety? While many people believe that drunk drivers pose the greatest threat on the road, being sleepy behind the wheel can be equally as dangerous, if not more so. In fact, it is estimated that drivers who miss 2 to 3 hours of sleep a day quadruple their risk of getting into an accident.
However, there are actionable ways to ensure that you overcome drowsiness while driving, especially for longer distances:
Get enough sleep beforehand
This piece of advice may seem obvious, but it is nevertheless critical advice to take on board. It is recommended that you ideally get at least 7 hours sleep before getting on the road. Getting this amount of sleep will ensure that you are as alert and agile as possible on the road and mentally and physically prepared for any eventuality.
Have a pre-driving nap
If you feel that you haven’t gotten enough sleep the night before, try make some time to enjoy a cat-nap before getting behind the wheel. Studies show that even an hour “power” nap allows your body to receive crucial rest that you require for long-haul driving.
Enjoy a mid-drive nap
If you don’t have time to nap beforehand, make sure that you pull over at a rest stop such as a garage and take a 20-minute nap. Whatever you do, don’t try to fight your fatigue; this could result in you crashing and hurting yourself and others.
Eat healthy meals
While it’s tempting to eat convenient and tasty fast food before and during long trips, its best to avoid this temptation, as the fat, salt and sugar that is loaded in this food is likely to make you lethargic. Rather, try to eat energy-packed foods that will increase your alertness and stamina, including protein and complex carbohydrates: whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean meat are all good options.
Keep yourself nourished
It’s also important to keep your energy levels up while driving. The best way to achieve this is to snack regularly and to drink plenty of liquids. Once again, it is important that you have healthy snacks on hand such as nuts and fruit, as these will be more effective in maintaining your energy.
Take your vitamins
Certain vitamins such as vitamin B and vitamin C will give you loads of energy on the road. Make sure though that you get these vitamins from a healthy meal, as your body won’t absorb them otherwise. Alternatively, buy vitamin B and vitamin c pills.
Move around when you get tired
It’s expected that you’ll start to feel a bit stiff and tired after driving for many hours, as sitting for extended periods means that blood doesn’t flow to your legs and other parts of your body. A simple solution to this problem is to pull over at a rest stop or at the side of the road and stretch your legs and arms, or even go for a short walk. Regular stretching will revitalise you and keep you focused on the journey at hand.
Play loud music
Music has an amazing ability to positively affect your mood, and this in turn will decrease your fatigue levels. So, if you start to feel your eyes drooping, crank up the volume on your radio or MP3 player and let the music be your wake-up call. You can even sing along if it helps!
Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine
Dehydration is known to cause fatigue, and it is therefore essential to have a water bottle by your side and to drink at regular intervals. You should also try not to overload on the caffeine; while 1 cup of coffee is alright, too much caffeine can have an adverse effect. Caffeine will wear off, and as it is also a diuretic, it will make you want to urinate a lot, which will increase your dehydration.
Get others to help you out
If you’re driving with other passengers on a long trip, you can ask them to help you stay alert. Ask them to engage in trivia quizzes, as this has proven effective in increasing your level of alertness when driving. Alternatively, you could even ask them to drive for a short period while you take a well-deserved nap.
So the next time you’re about to undergo a long haul drive, consider this advice: it could very well save your life!
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