Nodding off at the wheel can have serious consequences to your health, your financial situation, and your ability to legally drive. Here are five tips for how to stay alert while driving.
1. Sleep more.
The first tip is perhaps the most obvious. Some studies have shown that tired driving can be as dangerous as drink driving. The only cure for drowsiness is sleep. If at all possible, get a few hours of sleep in before a trip on the road. If this is not feasible, even a short nap before your drive can help stave off the effects of drowsiness. Just a thirty minute “power nap” can make a major difference in your alertness. Of course, if, while on the road, you notice that you are too tired to be a safe driver, pull over and take a quick nap in a safe place.
2. Bring a friend.
If you learned anything at university, it’s that conversation with a friend will keep you awake well past your natural bedtime. As an added bonus, a companion will be able to tell when you are dangerously sleepy, and maybe even help with navigational duties!
3. Move around a little.
Sometimes, the feeling of sitting in a quiet car for hours on ends leads to excessive sleepiness. Change it up! Take a quick break from driving and do some light exercise. Or dance to music in your car! While this is certainly a short term strategy to staying awake, a small break can be very effective.
4. Drink some water.
Dehydration can often contribute to sleepiness. While coffee may contribute to this problem, water can solve it. The temperature of cold water can also keep you from being comfortable enough to fall asleep.
5. Try caffeine, in moderation.
Of course, coffee will help. Do note that coffee is of only limited usefulness, and so should not be your only strategy when fending off the Sandman.
The only cure for sleepiness is sleep, but—hopefully—these tips will help to keep you safe on your journey.