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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Prone to falling asleep behind the wheel? Here’s the drill to get over it.

Since it’s the fourth quarter holidays, it’s a given that driving and a lack of sleep will mix.

Christmas parties thrown by relatives, friends, associates, employers, co-workers, and ex-coworkers often last until the unholy morning hours. The result is that the next day (or daybreak proper) ends up with you getting groggy enough that your skills behind the wheel get impaired. Taking the next 24-48 hours off isn’t an option, though, since the most wonderful time of the year is also one of the busiest times on the calendar. 

With a lack of shuteye, one does not need to make the holiday Festivus the most blunderful time of the year. Here are some tips to battle missing sleep if you’re behind the wheel. 

Stop driving as soon as possible

If you experience the signs of drowsy driving, it is best to pull over to the next available rest stop and get shuteye, even if it’s just for 20-30 minutes. Park your car in a well-lit space that allows you to shoehorn the vehicle and not obstruct other vehicles safely. Sleeping in the car with the abovementioned time allotment not only gets you that much-needed recharge but also the fact that you’re sleeping upright prevents you from getting into a deep slumber. 

The signs of drowsy driving include: 

  • Nodding off behind the wheel or micro sleeping
  • Frequent yawns or eye blinking
  • Difficulty keeping your head upright
  • Trouble remembering points of interest on the last few kilometers driven
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Hitting the cats eyes or rumble strips on the road

Among them, the micro-sleeping symptom is the most dangerous. They generally last for four to six seconds and can make a car travel some 90-91 meters at an 80-85 kph constant speed, all while your eyes are shut.  After those four to six seconds, the driver will be lucky if he gets away with just a sense of the car veering to another lane (and the appropriate steering wheel correction). The lack of sleep impairs judgment and reaction time, similar to drinking and driving.

Control your intake

Drinks with caffeine (such as coffee and soda) and quick-energy foods (such as crackers and candy) often guarantee that they will keep you awake. But those drinks and a short nap will only keep you awake for a short let and may not be the best help for someone with a significant amount of sleep deprivation.

“Once coffee, soda, crackers, and candy metabolize and the sugar spike in your bloodstream wears off, drowsiness can increase even more,” claimed Cleveland Clinic sleeps medicine specialist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer.

But if you must imbibe something to keep yourself awake, science and research recommend a 200 mg shot of a caffeinated drink (for non-habitual caffeine users) or a 400 mg shot of a caffeinated beverage (for caffeine users on the regular) to keep one’s self awake before driving. You can also chew gum or eat your favorite fruit, providing a natural glucose rush without the dreaded sugar crash that makes people tired.

One for the road

About this topic, one should never drink then drive. Aside from the effects above of slowed perception and reaction time, the compounds in alcohol hit the bloodstream quickly, slowing down the firing of needed brain neurons for judgment, reaction, and hand-eye coordination.

Another item related to this topic is to avoid consuming medicines that make you drowsy, such as the most common medicines for colds, coughs, and flu. The chemical compounds in these medicines make you sleepy, which will hinder your driving ability. 

Doing recreational drugs isn’t the solution, either

This is reportedly the favorite method of keeping awake by public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers, particularly the buses. 

However, this is also dangerous. Using recreational drugs known as “uppers” are not only illegal, but the physical effects of using those drugs can destroy organs and affect driving-related skills.

For example, one side effect of drug use is an excessive secretion of dopamine (the pleasure chemical secreted by the brain), which  (such as having the presence of mind to keep calm in stop-go traffic) and memory (such as muscle memory needed to use a stick shift). Another example is the dopamine crash that follows the use of those drugs, which makes one irritable (which can lead to road rage) and depressed (which can lead one to suicidal tendencies while driving). 

Slapping and pinching yourself also isn’t a solution

Sure, pinching yourself to ensure you’re not dreaming, especially if you claim to see something on the road that’s unexplained or out of the ordinary, does give a jolt to your driving senses. However, creating some mild physical harm – such as hitting, slapping, or pinching yourself – to stay awake does little to keep you alert and ready for what’s ahead. 

Try not to drive alone

One should assume that not even the use of in-car infotainment played at maximum volume nor calls made via said infotainment’s Bluetooth links while driving, nor safety packages in most autos nowadays (such as Honda Sensing-enhanced driver aids and Subaru’s lane departure) will immediately aid a drowsy driver get to his destination.

Hence, if you must drive and know that you had less than five hours of sleep the previous night, it’s best to have an actual passenger or three keeping you company throughout the trip. Establishing and maintaining conversations with passengers on anything under the cabin ceiling (save for religion and politics) should keep you awake. Last, if any or all of your passengers are licensed drivers, they can be your relievers on those trips. 

Try not to time your drives at dusk or during late night

Many people, including PUV drivers, on-call medical personnel for emergency care units, and commercial vehicle drivers, cannot avoid this, given the nature of their respective occupations. Still, if one can help avoid this sort of action, please do so.

This is because the human body clock is diurnal (awake when the sun is up, asleep past sundown) in nature. Messing with your daily clock will make you irritable and depressed, symptoms that are not needed when driving. 

Sit up straight

Do not disregard this oft-repeated phrase by many relatives, even if you’ve heard it ad nauseam since childhood. In a motoring sense, having an erect seating posture while driving keeps you awake further, gives you more control over your vehicle, and improves your hand-eye coordination.

 

The best way to battle sleep while behind the wheel is to get some sleep before you get behind the wheel. But if you must drive while sleep-deprived, the tips above should help you get to point A to point B without much problems. 

  

 

Source: Prone to falling asleep behind the wheel? Here’s the drill to get over it.

Uneeb Khan
Uneeb Khan
Uneeb Khan CEO at blogili.com. Have 4 years of experience in the websites field. Uneeb Khan is the premier and most trustworthy informer for technology, telecom, business, auto news, games review in World.

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