According to 2018 research carried out by the AA, 1 in 5 accidents on major roads are caused by tiredness. They also found that 1 in 8 (13%) of UK drivers admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.
Why does driving make me sleepy?
There are a number of reasons; for example: car vibrations, monotonous roads, or dehydration. Feeling sleepy while driving is very dangerous, but can also be hard to avoid, especially during long-haul trips.
Here are some tips to help prevent you nodding off while on the roads.
Get A Good Sleep The Night Before
If you know you have a long trip ahead of you the next day, it’s imperative to get a good sleep the night before.
If you go to bed late, and then have to be up early and drive potentially hundreds of miles, the lack of sleep will soon begin to take its toll. Go to bed earlier, get a good night’s rest, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and in a better place to tackle the roads.
Avoid Driving Late
Biologically, your body is generally programmed to be asleep between the hours of midnight and 6am, so during these hours you’re going to experience more intense tiredness. Driving at night can be high-risk anyway, and being surrounded by darkness in the car won’t help your sleepy mind-set.
It’s best to avoid driving during this time period if you can, but if you can’t avoid it, ensure you’re well rested, and keep the other tips from this post in mind.
Take Regular Breaks
We see the signs up and down the motorway: Tiredness can kill. Take a break.
Frequently stopping during a long trip is highly recommended, whether it be for a quick walk around and a stretch, or a longer break at a service station. When you’re sitting in the same position in your car for a long period of time, it’s possible that you’ll start to feel drowsy, so it’s important to change it up and recharge.
Listen To Music
Silence can be too conducive to sleep which you don’t want when you’re driving, so putting some music on can be helpful.
Ideally you want to be listening to something quite lively and upbeat that will make you feel energised, as opposed to something slow and relaxing; otherwise it’s counterproductive and you might feel even sleepier. Having a good old sing-a-long won’t do you any harm either because it will help to keep your mind active and focused.
Keep Your Vehicle Ventilated
If your vehicle is stuffy, or overly warm, this will make you feel sleepy while driving. That’s why it’s important to keep your vehicle cool and ventilated at all times.
Crack a couple of windows, or put your air con on, and make sure there’s a good flow of fresh air into your car. This will help you feel more awake and refreshed, and therefore you should be less likely to feel fatigue creep in.
Having a tea, coffee or similar drink before, and during, a long trip can help with your level of alertness thanks to the caffeine they contain.
You don’t need to be bouncing off the walls; having too much caffeine in one go is not recommended anyway as you can “crash” and experience a loss of energy further down the line, but a bit of caffeine in your system can help to keep you stimulated throughout your trip.
Eat Healthy Energy Snacks
During a long drive, it can be tempting to snack on junk food. This often seems like the simplest, and more enjoyable, option. However, this sort of food won’t help you stay awake behind the wheel.
Foods that contain high levels of fat and carbs can sit on your stomach and make you feel more sluggish, and therefore tired. Instead, take some high energy snacks with you to have on route such as nuts, protein bars or bananas.
If you’re travelling with another person, and you’re both covered to drive the car, it’s a good idea to take turns driving.
One person can drive a couple of hours while the other rests, and vice versa, and this way one person isn’t getting overly tired by having to take the wheel for a long period. When your turn comes around, if you’ve had some food, and perhaps a nap, you’ll feel fresher and ready to go again.