Staying awake during a long car drive isn’t easy especially at night after a long and tiring day. Many of us overlook this potent natural biological force that can outdo even the best drivers. Being unprepared poses a serious threat to you and to other road users. So before you head out for a long drive make sure that drowsiness won’t overtake you. Here are tips to battle sleepiness during a long drive.
Keep properly hydrated
One of the symptoms of dehydration is drowsiness so be sure to have plenty of water before you set out for a long drive.
Sip a cup of coffee
This is nothing unfamiliar — thanks to caffeine, drinking a cup coffee is a good way to keep awake.
Chew on a gum
Chewing a gum stimulates your facial muscles which aids your blood flow. That’s why it helps a lot of people stay awake and remain focused in boring situations.
Listen to good audio tracks
When we say “audio tracks” it doesn’t necessarily mean “music tracks”. A good way to keep you awake while driving is to listen to good and interesting audio books or comedy audio tracks.
Avoid heavy meals
It’s our bodies’ natural response to feel sleepy after a big meal. This is because taking in big quantities of food produces more insulin which, in turn, increases both serotonin and melatonin levels, two chemicals that are associated with drowsiness. Have a light meal before you go, it’s also a good idea to pack some snacks that you can munch as you drive.
Nibble on snacks
Chewing food will keep you and your taste buds busy and this would help you stay awake and feel less sleepy. Get some nuts, biscuits or cookies, or perhaps an apple or an orange. There are plenty of variants of out there but be careful in taking in snacks with high dose of sugar. See the next tip for the reason why.
Take in sugar with protein
We made this a separate point because many people think that taking in sugar will keep them awake but actually it’s the opposite. Sugar is like sedatives because it inhibits orexin — a brain chemical that keeps you awake. But don’t worry, there’s a method to counter this: protein does the opposite — it incites orexin to production mode, making you feel alert and awake (read more here). So next time make sure you get your sugar-protein dose before you drive.
Watch what medicine you take
There are medicines that cause drowsiness, narcotics: codeine and morphine; antihistamines: diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine, to name a few. Know your medicine and its side-effects, especially if you’re under maintenance medication. If unsure, ask your physician or look online for reliable sites like Mayo Clinic.
Get plenty of sleep
In keeping alert and awake nothing beats a good and an adequate sleep. If you are in for a long and tiring drive be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before.
Carlos is a digital marketing and lead generation expert who has helped advocate driver education websites since 2012.