Pull over and rest when you’re getting tired – that’s what the truck stops are for!
Ken Bosma Let’s face it; long hauls are boring after about the first 10 or 20 miles! Your tires make that humming sound against the road, which doesn’t exactly add to whatever music you are playing. Most of the scenery on long hauls is the same, especially if you’ve driven the haul before – you’ve seen all there is to see. These two potentially deadly combinations, the “white noise” of the tires and nothing visually exciting to keep your attention (unless you like road kill, and if you do, don’t tell me), contribute to road fatigue, which is what causes the peepers to droop.
“No problem,” you think. “I’ll pull over and grab something to help me stay awake!” And, sure enough, when you walk into your favorite truck stop there are all kinds of energy and sugary products promising they provide the best way to stay awake while driving. But time and testing have shown that these quick fixes not only pose a health risk, but also make you even more tired than you were before once the effects wear off. Come on! You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all downed a large bag of M&Ms trying to keep alert behind the wheel, only to crash and burn once we’re over the sugar high.
So, what do you do? You’ve got a long-haul assignment – nice! – and you know you’re going to get tired. Some experienced truckers have some tried-and-true methods to stay alert while traveling thousands of miles for hours on end. These tips to stay awake while drivin) have helped truckers keep it safe, because aside from bad weather, driving when you’re sleepy is just about the next best way to cause an accident.
- Cat-nap before getting on the road. Studies have shown that even if you sleep for less than an hour, your body receives crucial rest it needs to help you stay awake into the night. Pull over and take 20-minute power-naps while en route when you need them as well. Don’t try and fight your fatigue to save time; you might end up hurting others and yourself.
- Eat a healthy meal after your pre-route nap. I know, I know! Grabbing that fast food when hitting the road is convenient, but the fat, salt and sugar makes you tired. Energy food consists of complex carbohydrates and protein, which will give you long-lasting stamina. Eat whole grains – 100 percent ones, not the “contains whole grains” things – lean meats, fruits, veggies … the good stuff! These foods will help keep you awake on your route.
- Listen to your mom and take your vitamins. Certain vitamins, like B’s and C’s, give you energy. Just make sure to take them with your healthy meal, or your body won’t absorb them and you won’t realize their full benefits.
- Move when you get tired. Pull over, get out of your cab and stretch your legs. You’re sitting for extended periods of time and you need to move around to keep your blood flowing; this keeps your energy up. Heck! Keep the authorities happy at the same time by using a quick truck and trailer inspection as your excuse to stop driving for a second. A walk around your rig should perk you up.
- Crank up the volume of your music if necessary. Music affects your mood which, in turn, affects your fatigue level. If you’re feeling a little sleepy or even down, listen to some lively music that you can sing along with. Who cares if you can’t carry a tune? Only you and your rig can hear you!
- Keep snacking even though you ate a meal your mom would be proud of before you hit the road. Make sure your snacks are healthy, though. Remember the M&Ms? Sure, they taste better than a piece of fruit, but you don’t want to ride that sugar rollercoaster when driving long haul. Snack on something healthy instead, like a bag of almonds.
- Listen to an audio book – just don’t make it War and Peace! Keeping your mind occupied will help you stay awake. Maybe you like to pump your adrenaline with a scary novel, or suspense is your gig. Whatever you’re into, once you get tired of singing, pop in an audio book and listen to someone else’s voice for a while.
- Do annoying things to yourself. Okay, I know, you’re thinking, “are you serious?” Yes, I am. Rub the roof of your mouth with your tongue, pinch your ear lobes or your arm or leg, smack or tickle yourself, whatever it takes to chase away the sleepiness. Don’t hurt yourself, of course. Just do something that will irritate you out of your sleepy state.
- Open your windows and let the oxygen flow! This works particularly well if it’s toasty warm in your cab and cold outside. Like diving into cold water, cold air gives your system a temporary jolt, shocking your sense into alertness. Careful, though, this – and irritating yourself – only works temporarily, so you want to pull over at your next rest stop and take that power-nap.
- Keep yourself hydrated and avoid caffeine. Again, I know you’re thinking, “are you serious?” Yes, if you drink tons of water you’ll have to stop every 10 seconds to pee – I get that. However, you can’t let yourself dehydrate, either. Dehydration is an immediate fatigue-causer, and don’t load up on coffee. Not only will the caffeine in coffee wear off, but caffeine is also a diuretic, which will make you pee more than the water you should be drinking and increase your dehydration.
These are just 10 ways to stay awake while driving. There are many others, but the best solution is to always make sure you get your proper winks, because you can’t replace your need for actual sleep. The feds – you know ’em – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has some pretty strict rules on how much you can drive in a day to avoid driver’s fatigue and accidents. Sure, you know you can handle more, but keep in mind safety is worth one heck of a lot more than pushing yourself just to make good time. After all, if you get into an accident, you’ll face losing the load you were tasked to protect, hearing it from your boss – ugh! – and, well I don’t even want to say it, but possibly something worse like your license or your life. Keep it safe, my friends, and avoid fatigue when you’re on the long haul.
By Edward Green.
The great thing about RVing is being able to drive from one beautiful location to another.
The bad part is that sometimes these locations are hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.
This can mean several hours behind the wheel.
If you’ve ever driven for a long stretch of time, no doubt you felt a little drowsy at some point or another. Drowsy driving is very dangerous; not only for you, but for others on the road as well.
Here are 12 hacks to help you stay awake and alert while behind the wheel.
- Take a pre-drive nap. If you’re starting your drive later in the afternoon, start it by taking a 20 minute nap. This will help you hit the road feeling fresh.
- Caffeine. No explanation needed!
- Music. Get your blood pumping with some great tunes!
- Listen to an audio book. Before your trip, download an audio book to your phone and listen as you drive.
- Talk with your passengers. A good conversation can help keep your mind focused and alert.
- Be sure to have proper sun shading while you drive. This means having sun glasses on or your visor down. Squinting for long periods of time can cause eye fatigue which leads to overall drowsiness.
- Eat some healthy snacks. You want to keep your blood sugar at a good level while you drive and eating some healthy snacks can help. Crunchy fruits or veggies, like an apples, carrots or celery, are a good way to go.
- Drink water. There’s going to be some sort of compromise here – dehydration can lead to fatigue, but too much water means more bathroom stops. Be sure to drink enough water to stay hydrated.
- Stop to exercise. If you’re feeling really tired, pull over and do some jumping jacks or go for a quick brisk walk. This will help get you some fresh air and your heart pumping to wake you up.
- Stop for a mid-drive nap. If going for a long haul, 4 hours or more, stop mid way through and take a 20 minute nap. Be sure to check out our selection of all the most comfortable RV mattresses to make these naps the best part of your drive!
- Keep the temperature lower in the RV. Don’t get nice and cozy in the driver’s seat. Being too warm can make you sleepy.
- Sing along with the radio. The others in the car may not enjoy this too much, but belting out your favorite tunes will help you stay awake and energized.
Hopefully these tips can keep you awake and alert on the road and get you to your destination safely!
5 Tricks to Stay Awake Behind the Wheel
Be honest: You’d never get behind the wheel of a car drunk (right? RIGHT?), but you’ve probably driven when you were at least a tad sleepy. Late nights, early mornings, long road trips-sometimes you just can’t avoid driving when you’re less-than-completely refreshed.
According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, you’re not the only one: Sixty percent of adult drivers say they have driven while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than a third say they have actually fallen asleep at the wheel, with 4 percent of those resulting in car accidents or near-accidents.
In an effort to reduce sleep-related car accidents, The National Sleep Foundation has declared the week of November 12 to 18 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. More than 30 percent of all Americans report that they get six hours or less of sleep per night. And lack of sleep has been linked to everything from weight gain to memory loss, so it’s not surprising that the constantly sleep-deprived are more likely to be involved in accidents than those who get enough rest.
You may not be able to avoid driving while tired all the time, especially with the holidays coming up, but these tips will help lower your chances of dozing off in the middle of the road:
1. Take breaks. If you can, get enough rest before you hit the road, but if you can’t and you find that you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, having difficulty focusing, or missing traffic signs, take a break. Pulling over at a rest stop or gas station to get out and stretch for a few minutes about every 100 miles or two hours will help you remain alert.
2. Double up on caffeine. Experts often warn against drinking coffee or soda right before bedtime, but in this case, drink up! The equivalent of two cups of coffee can boost your alertness and focus for several hours. For best results, try drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a 20-minute nap before you leave.
3. Avoid alcohol and medications. Driving while drinking is a big no-no anyway, but certain OTC and prescription meds can impair your judgment in the same way, especially if taken on an empty stomach. If you can, avoid taking any medications until after you reach your destination.
4. Enlist the help of a friend. Long road trips are way more fun in groups anyway. Bonus: Not only will you have someone to talk to and sing along with, but you and your co-pilot can also divvy up the driving and the gas money. Win-win!
5. Stop driving. If you really don’t trust yourself on the road and you can afford the time, pull over for the night at a hotel or motel and try to get a good night’s sleep. If possible, request a room as far away from the road as possible to minimize the late-night noise and disruptions.
- By Alanna Nuñez
When you have to keep driving and stopping for the night isn’t an option, you need to find ways to keep those eyelids open so you arrive at your destination safely. That’s not as easy as it sounds – highway hypnosis can set in before you’re even aware it’s happening.
That’s setting the stage for an accident because drowsy driving can mimic the effects of drunk driving – you’ll lose concentration, your reaction time will be slower, and you might completely fall asleep and leave the roadway or crash into another car. That means keeping your mind alert is imperative for your safety.
There are several key signs that you might be too tired to drive, and the best solution is always to pull over and get some sleep when you can. Those signs include burning eyes, heavy eyelids, daydreaming, not remembering driving the past few miles, yawning a lot, drifting out of your lane, feeling grumpy, and having your head nod off as you drive.
If you notice any of those signs, here are tips to help keep your mind refreshed and your eyes wide awake and focused.
Turn On Some Music
It’s best to avoid slow music when you’re already tired. Instead, pick songs that will energize you, like pop, rock, or even heavy metal.
The noise will give you a jolt of electricity so turn up that radio and have fun.
If there was ever a reason to load up on caffeine – whether through tea, coffee, or soda – a road trip is it. Caffeine will keep you stimulated and alert. But you’ll need a steady infusion of it if you’re on a long trip. If you stop drinking it before you reach your destination, you’ll have a sudden energy crash while you’re behind the wheel.
Put Down the Windows
Getting some fresh air may be enough to keep your eyes open. Fresh air, especially when it’s cold, can be refreshing and can snap you out of your daydreaming when you’re behind the wheel.
If you don’t want to put down the windows, opt for turning on the air conditioner instead. A blast of cold air will keep you awake. If the air is too warm, you’ll feel even sleepier.
Take a Quick Pit Stop
Getting out and walking around for a minute can help energize you. Whether you find a park and take a quick stroll or you simply wander around a gas station looking at the snack section inside, the simple act of moving around might keep you awake.
Talk to Someone
If you’re driving solo, you can call up a friend for a quick conversation. But make sure you aren’t holding your cell phone up to your ear – in some states it is illegal to speak on a cell phone while driving. The best way to chat is by using a hands-free device. Having a conversation may help keep your mind stimulated and your eyes open.
While the tips above will help you stay awake when you’re already on the road, it’s even better to plan ahead, so you don’t put yourself in the position of driving while tired. Here are some things you can do to avoid that scenario before you even leave on your trip.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Purposely go to bed early the night before you plan to do a lot of driving. Getting a full eight or more hours of sleep will leave you well-rested for your trip.
- Fit in a nap before you leave: If you’re leaving mid-day or in the evening on your trip, fit in a nap. But keep it to no more than an hour – anything longer might leave you more tired than you were to begin with.
- Travel with a companion: If you’re planning a long trip, it’s best to take at least one other person with you. That way, you can take turns switching drivers, and the one who is on a break can fit in a nap so they’ll be refreshed when it’s their turn to drive.
- Try not to drive when you’d normally be sleeping: If you go to bed every night at 10 p.m., you’re going to feel tired if it’s midnight and you’re still driving. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure. You should plan your trip so you’ll be tucked into a bed at a hotel at that time of night.
How to sleep better?