A sleepy dri­ver is no less dan­ger­ous than a drunk one — about a quar­ter of all acci­dents occur pre­cise­ly because of falling asleep at the wheel. More­over, a per­son often may not feel that his con­cen­tra­tion of atten­tion has great­ly decreased. The monot­o­nous road, the dark time of the day and many hours of dri­ving tire grad­u­al­ly, and the tran­si­tion to sleep is sim­ply not fixed by the dri­ver. Accord­ing to the expe­ri­ence of motorists, even in a well-rest­ed per­son, the reac­tion rate is halved after 4 hours of con­tin­u­ous dri­ving. Med­AboutMe will tell you how to rec­og­nize the dan­ger in time and what mea­sures to take so that acci­den­tal falling asleep does not lead to tragedy.

Signs of falling asleep while driving

Signs of falling asleep while driving

Dri­vers going on a long jour­ney need to be aware of the signs of a decrease in con­cen­tra­tion. Urgent action should be tak­en if a per­son notices:

  • Yawn.
  • Slow blink­ing, heavy eye­lids.
  • Mus­cle relax­ation.
  • Con­cen­tra­tion on some­thing monot­o­nous, for exam­ple, when the dri­ver does not take his eyes off the road mark­ings for a long time.
  • Short-term loss of con­trol, for exam­ple, the car moves out of its lane a lit­tle.
  • Slow reac­tion to any irri­tants, whether it be ques­tions from a fel­low trav­el­er or road signs.

It should also be borne in mind that very tired dri­vers some­times expe­ri­ence the so-called microsleep — turn­ing off atten­tion and reac­tion for 10–30 sec­onds with their eyes open. There­fore, it is nec­es­sary to deal with drowsi­ness already at the first signs.

Tip 1: nutrition

Tip 1: Nutrition

Truck­ers often rec­om­mend some­thing to chew on the road. It is impor­tant that we are talk­ing about light snacks, and not at all about a hearty din­ner, after which, on the con­trary, it makes you sleepy even more. For food on the road, prod­ucts with a pro­nounced taste are suit­able, which can be chewed or sucked for a long time:

  • Sour apple.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Nuts (seeds are very pop­u­lar).
  • Cit­rus. If you are intol­er­ant of sour, a tan­ger­ine or orange will do. But still, one of the most effec­tive ways to wake up is con­sid­ered a small slice of lemon, placed under the tongue.
  • Bit­ter choco­late (at least 75% cocoa).

If the road is long, and a good rest is not expect­ed, it is bet­ter to refuse meat dish­es and large por­tions. In extreme cas­es, in a road­side cafe, you can order a plate of sal­ad or light soup.

Tip 2: Drink

Very often, in order to cheer up, peo­ple take var­i­ous ener­gy drinks on the road. Indeed, caf­feine, which is in their com­po­si­tion, is able to save a per­son from sleep for a while. But its effect will not last more than 1–2 hours, and drink­ing more than one can a day is sim­ply dan­ger­ous for health. In addi­tion, they will not work at all on a very tired per­son. If the dri­ver falls asleep at the wheel and has been dri­ving for more than 6 hours, caf­feine will affect the ner­vous sys­tem in a rather pecu­liar way — the per­son will sim­ply be overex­cit­ed, and this will fur­ther reduce con­cen­tra­tion and reac­tion speed. There­fore, it is not rec­om­mend­ed to drink not only ener­gy drinks, but also tea and cof­fee on the road.

The fol­low­ing drinks are suit­able for dri­vers:

  • Min­er­al water.
  • Plain water with ice and lemon slices.
  • Juices. Cit­rus fruits are espe­cial­ly invig­o­rat­ing — grape­fruit, orange and oth­ers.
  • Decoc­tions of gin­seng, wild rose, eleuthe­ro­coc­cus, echi­nacea. Nat­u­ral­ly, we are not talk­ing about alco­hol tinc­tures — even a small amount of alco­hol is dan­ger­ous for the dri­ver.

Tip 3: singing and music

Tip 3: singing and music

It is very good for long trips to make your own playlist, which will not con­tain slow and relax­ing songs. It is impor­tant to select com­po­si­tions with famil­iar lyrics, because singing helps many dri­vers get rid of sleep. There are sev­er­al rea­sons for the effec­tive­ness of this method:

  • Dur­ing singing, the lungs begin to work more inten­sive­ly, which means that the blood is bet­ter sat­u­rat­ed with oxy­gen, and this also has an invig­o­rat­ing effect on the body. If pos­si­ble, you need to open a win­dow in the car for a short time — fresh air will enhance the effect.
  • Remem­ber­ing the lyrics of a song is a job for the brain, and while it is busy, falling asleep will not hap­pen.

Tip 4: travel companion

The pas­sen­ger is per­haps the best way to keep the dri­ver from falling asleep at the wheel. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion ide­al­ly helps to get rid of drowsi­ness, in addi­tion, a fel­low trav­el­er will be able to con­trol the con­di­tion of the motorist, mon­i­tor his eyes and reac­tions and wake him up in time. If you have to spend 4 or more hours behind the wheel, it is bet­ter not only to talk, but also to play log­ic games. Even a sim­ple word game will help the brain to work in the right mode.

Pas­sen­gers can also pose a dan­ger to the dri­ver. This hap­pens if they fall asleep in the car. There­fore, it is bet­ter to trans­fer sleepy fel­low trav­el­ers to the back seat, and the pas­sen­gers them­selves should still try not to turn off and sup­port the one who is dri­ving. Also, do not dis­tract the dri­ver with con­ver­sa­tions or exces­sive noise in the first hours of the road — this, on the con­trary, will tire him faster.

Tip 5: smells

Tip 5: smells

One of the ways that truck­ers often rec­om­mend is to use strong odors against sleep. Of course, you can just buy a fla­vor, but, as prac­tice shows, the dri­ver quick­ly gets used to their smell and after a max­i­mum of 2 hours prac­ti­cal­ly does not react to it. Nat­ur­al essen­tial oils can be a good alter­na­tive. A cou­ple of drops on a paper nap­kin is enough to effec­tive­ly dri­ve away sleep for 1–1.5 hours. After that, you can use anoth­er oil. Ton­ic aro­mas include:

  • Grape­fruit.
  • Lemon.
  • Car­damom.
  • Car­na­tion.
  • Euca­lyp­tus.
  • Pine, spruce.
  • Cin­na­mon.
  • Thyme.

In addi­tion, you can also use an ordi­nary orange or lemon in the car inte­ri­or — the fruit must be cut into slices and laid out in the cab­in. In the most extreme cas­es, dri­vers sniff ammo­nia, but it is not rec­om­mend­ed to use it con­stant­ly.

Tip 6: Move

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty helps wake up the brain. There­fore, if the dri­ver feels that he is grad­u­al­ly falling into a slum­ber, you can inten­sive­ly move your shoul­ders, make sev­er­al head tilts. And it is best to stop, get out of the car and sit down inten­sive­ly a cou­ple of times, bend over, take a few sharp breaths. Such a charge will take only 2–5 min­utes, and there will be enough vig­or for sev­er­al more hours of the road.

In addi­tion, dur­ing a stop, you can per­form exer­cis­es for the eyes with­out even leav­ing the car — con­sis­tent­ly trans­late and fix your eyes on the steer­ing wheel, the far­thest point of the road, in the rear-view mir­ror, in the side mir­ror, in the oncom­ing lane, and so on. And after the eyes have rest­ed, con­tin­ue mov­ing.

Tip 7: Stops and Sleep

Tip 7: Stops and Sleep

The dri­ver always needs to ade­quate­ly assess their capa­bil­i­ties. It is bet­ter to break long dis­tances into sev­er­al days and make a full stop with an overnight stay. If the route is planned to be cov­ered in a day, then you need to remem­ber about the regime — every 2–4 hours it is nec­es­sary to make stops. At this time, it is bet­ter to get out of the car, move around, drink water, breathe fresh air.

If all means of com­bat­ing sleep do not help for longer than 30 min­utes, this means that the body is already extreme­ly exhaust­ed. It is extreme­ly dan­ger­ous to con­tin­ue dri­ving in this state: no mat­ter what the dri­ver does, his brain will turn off in the near future any­way. Even if the microsleep takes 5–10 sec­onds, this is enough for trag­ic con­se­quences.

The best thing to do in such a sit­u­a­tion is to stop by the side of the road and let your­self sleep for at least 15 min­utes. This, of course, will not replace a good rest, but it will make it pos­si­ble to hold out to a place with a suit­able overnight stay.


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