Have you been to a situation where you have questioned yourself- why am I always falling asleep while driving? Or has it been even worse when you actually felt drowsy or asleep when driving long distances? If either of these has been experienced by you any time soon, then you are on the right page!
In this article, we are going to discuss drowsy driving, its disadvantages, its symptoms, how to deal with it, and more. But first, let us know what actually drowsy driving means?
It is a condition where drivers feel drowsy or sleepy while driving long distances. It might have occurred to you sometimes, and it is fine to have happened rarely.
But if the condition persists and you feel drowsy every single time you drive long hours, it is a problem. It is a fact that “falling asleep while driving but not tired” is a genuine disorder that most car owners are not aware of!
It can be dangerous, both for the driver and the other people on the road. Sometimes, drowsy driving can lead to lethal accidents, which can amount to deaths as well.
While it may not sound too serious for people who have not faced any such conditions, it is a genuine problem for those who have experienced it often. So, what’s the solution? Well, as you keep reading the article, you will get to know how to stay awake while driving long distances and what are the dangers associated with it.
Why Do I Get Sleepy While Driving?
If, of late, you have experienced drowsiness while driving, then you might also be wondering, Is there a condition where you fall asleep while driving? Well, yes! If we go by the medical term, feeling sleepy while driving or falling asleep frequently is depicted by a term that is called Narcolepsy.
It is a condition where a person feels over-sleepy even if they have got enough sleep hours. While feeling drowsy in normal conditions is pretty much fine, it is extremely dangerous if you fall asleep during driving or face drowsy driving symptoms. There might be some tried and tested ways to keep yourself awake while driving but dealing with the problem is still a tough task for many!
If you feel sleepy while driving, it may lead to uncertain conditions that might be fatal too! For instance, you may not be able to apply brakes when there is a need for them, or you may not be able to take the right turn when feeling drowsy. And all these can lead to accidents and other casualties.
There are certain causes why people feel drowsy while driving that includes sleeplessness, alcohol consumption, consuming medicines that make you feel drowsy, irregular driving shifts, driving long hours without any break, etc.
If you have been experiencing the condition of drowsy driving of late, then you must get to know how to stay awake while driving long distances alone at night to avoid dangers of all kinds. And to guide you in a broader way, the following article is formed categorically. Just have a good read!
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What are the Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving?
While there are several ways to keep yourself awake while driving at night alone, you must first understand that you are facing the problem of drowsy driving. And to understand that, you must know the signs and symptoms of drowsy driving prominently so that you can detect it earlier and then take preventive measures accordingly.
Most people complain that they feel sleepy while driving without knowing the fact that they actually suffer from this condition that needs to be treated soon!
So, what are the warning signs of drowsy driving? The following signs are considered the best to understand that you are suffering from drowsy driving issues. Check out below:
- Yawning or blinking your eyes frequently.
- Not being able to keep your head up for a longer period.
- Drifting away from the designated lane or road without acknowledgment.
- Daydreaming, tailgating, and rubbing eyes frequently.
- Inability or difficulty in remembering the past few miles that you have driven.
- Missing traffic signals or exit points.
- Feeling discomfort and restlessness while driving.
- Difficulty focusing on the road or hitting a rumble.
These are some of the most coveted warning signs of drowsy driving that you can detect if you are driving alone at night or sitting next to someone who shows such symptoms.
And when you detect these signs early, you can take necessary measures soon to stop yourself from making any bad decisions and prevent mishaps that could have resulted due to drowsy driving issues.
How to Stay Awake While Driving Long Distances Alone at Night
Though drowsy driving may not be a very common problem amongst people driving in the daytime, the ones who are regularly driving at night hours or long hours might have experienced this issue frequently. And dealing with it is necessary to avoid hazardous damages.
So, what are the best ways to keep yourself awake while driving long distances alone at night? We will discuss this in the next section. Keep reading:
Get Enough Sleep Before Getting on the Road
There are many ways to keep yourself awake while driving, but this one is a prevention method that will help you not feel drowsy in the first place! Yes! Not getting enough sleep before you set off for a long driving session, that too alone, can lead to frequent drowsiness.
Not only will you feel tired or sleepy, but you will also feel restless and sick if you do not get enough sleep hours before driving long sessions.
It doesn’t matter whether you are driving at night or in the daytime; you must get at least 8 to10 hours of optimum sleep to be able to cope with the long driving journey.
When people do not get enough sleep, their brain cells do not work properly. And apart from feeling drowsy, they are also prone to experience hallucinations, numbness, delayed response, and other similar issues.
So, it is highly recommended that if you are all set to drive for long hours alone in the night, get yourself enough sleep and be fully energized before you start with your driving session. Once you are full on your sleep schedule, you experience less drowsiness on-road while driving.
Avoid Driving Between Midnight and 6 Am
If you get drowsy while driving, it is best to avoid driving between midnight and 6 AM. It is so because this is the time of the night when the common people feel sleepy mostly.
Though the sleeping patterns of young adults have changed these days and most of them have the habits of being awake late at night and sleeping till late hours, even though you have a practice of sleeping late, driving during this time may still lead to drowsiness at any point.
So, it is advised that if possible, you must avoid driving long roads within this time frame so that you can reduce the chances of drowsy driving and save yourself and others on the road from any chance of fatalities.
If at all preventing driving during these hours is not possible, then at least try to avoid driving in the wee hours of dawn, like after 2-3 AM as a majority of people are prone to get sleepy during this time of the night, and it is best to avoid driving during these hours.
Drink a Lot of Water to Stay Hydrated
Most people try many things to stay awake while driving, but they fail to adhere to the nominal stuff that may be crucial in preventing drowsy driving. And one of them is drinking lots of water during the driving session! Yes, you read that right, and you are not reading a health guide!
Drinking lots of water can actually help you prevent drowsy driving issues. Are you wondering how?
Well, when you drink a lot of water, it keeps you hydrated and prevents dehydration (of course!) And most of us know that dehydration makes us sleepy and tired at the same time. So, dehydration can be one major cause behind feeling sleepy or tired while driving long hours at night alone.
And to prevent yourself from dehydration, you should keep drinking water at regular intervals. If you don’t like to sip too much water at all, then you can carry bottles of juices along with you that can also ensure proper hydration.
Also, when you are drinking too many liquid substances, you will feel the urge to urinate frequently, which shall also enable you to stop the car for a while and get out to pee. Which, in turn, will prevent drowsiness to a certain extent.
Listen to Upbeat Music
Most of us have referred to slow songs at some point in our lives, making us “sleepy” at times, isn’t it? And why not? The acoustic piano tunes or the classical music beats are so soothing that it calms our mind and even makes us feel drowsy at times.
But in contrast, when we hear upbeat music and hip-hop songs, it gets us on our heels, and we become more energized as compared to when we listen to soft songs. This psychology can also be applied to driving long distances to keep awake.
So, if you are wondering how to stay awake while driving long distances at night, try playing some upbeat music and see instant results! The higher the musical tempo, the better it is to deal with drowsy driving issues.
When you listen to upbeat music, it automatically rushes your adrenaline and makes you more energized and grooving, which the low-tempo songs can’t do! So, it is recommended that you up the volume and play some upbeat music while driving at night to prevent drowsy driving issues.
Drink Something Caffeinated
No matter whether you are a pro driver or not, you must have experience sipping a cup of coffee whenever you may have felt drowsy, perhaps while completing a high school assignment or an official work! And thus, the benefits of consuming caffeine are well known to us all – It Prevents Drowsiness!
Yes, the caffeine content in coffee helps in preventing drowsiness as it makes the nervous system more active than normal. That’s why, it is considered one of the best ways to stay awake while driving for long hours at night. You can drink a cup of hot coffee or any form of coffee like latte, cappuccino, or espresso, depending on your liking.
Drinking caffeine is the primary focus for drivers going to take a long driving route to increase alertness and prevent drowsiness. But refrain from drinking too much coffee with high sugar content because as soon as the sugar content comes to a low, your body starts feeling tired and exhausted again!
Eat Healthy Snacks
Most people do not know that eating healthy snacks before you head for a long drive is actually a good practice, if not the best way to stay awake while driving at night. When we eat healthy foods, their nutrition keeps us energized, which does not let us feel drowsy or tired!
The high sugar content of processed food makes you lethargic, and thus it leads to drowsiness. You must also try to consume meals that are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates as they are very good at providing energy.
Whole grains, chicken, turkey, egg whites, etc., are considered to be rich in nutrients that provide energy to an individual. Hence, you can consume such foods before you head out for a long drive alone at night to prevent drowsy driving issues.
In addition, the snacks that you take along with you must also be a good source of energy and nutrition, e.g., sunflower seeds or nuts. These are good to keep your stomach full as well, as you may be feeling hungry when driving for long hours.
Don’t Drink Alcohol During or the Day Before Driving
No wonder you are on this page to know more about tips to stay awake while driving, but this point must be followed even if you don’t feel sleepy while driving! Drinking and driving are not only lawfully punishable, but they can also lead to serious accidents leading to injuries and death of the driver and the people present on the accident site as well.
Drinking alcohol has many disadvantages on a driver; it impairs your sense abilities, affects proper visions, and it worsens the condition of sleepiness and tiredness in a human body. Thus, it is advised never to consume alcohol while driving and even the day before heading for a long driving session.
If you consume alcohol, it may lead you to feel drowsy and even make you fall asleep while driving, and that can lead to fatal accidents causing injuries and deaths as well. Moreover, if the accident does not kill you, the law will surely do!
The laws against drink and drive cases are very strong across the US, and it can definitely land you in jail, make you pay hefty fines, and suspend your driving license for years in the worst cases!
Do Some Facial Exercise While Driving
This is one of the simple tricks to stay awake while driving long distances alone at night. When you drive for long hours, sitting idle and just focusing on the road can be one prominent reason why you feel drowsy or sleepy most of the time! However, you can’t really deal with being bored while driving alone, but what you can do to keep yourself awake is practicing facial exercises.
When you do facial exercises, you certainly do not have to stop your car also. The facial exercises improve certain conditions like sleep apnea that eventually is one good reason behind drowsy driving.
For example, you can move your lower and upper lip for a few minutes, place your tongue on the back of your teeth, keep patting your eyelids for a few seconds, hold your breath repeatedly for a few seconds, and practice similar other facial exercises that do not only cure sleep apnea but also help in keeping you energized throughout your lone driving journey.
Listen to a Podcast or E-Book
Are you still wondering how to keep yourself awake while driving? You can consider this as one of the best options to ditch the sleepyhead in you while driving long roads on a lonely night. But, unfortunately, reading a paperback book has almost become passe in these digital media times, at least to the Gen Y adults!
And thus, to compensate for that, several digital platforms have come up with the idea of e-books and podcast that tells the same story but in a different manner!
Moreover, if you are not at all interested in reading stories, you can listen to them through the audible e-Books and podcasts available on various platforms. Most of these come with interesting story lines and intriguing vocals, and thus these can keep you hooked till the end!
So, if you are driving for long hours, you can select to play such audible books and podcasts in your preferred niches and enjoy while you drive. You can easily pass 2-3 hours of your driving session by listening to such podcasts and thereby ditch your drowsiness in a better manner.
Avoid Medications that Make You Drowsy
It is recommended that before you head out for a long driving session, you make a to-do list of all the things that you are going to do on the road for your safety and your entertainment at the same time.
In addition, you must also consider jotting down the things to do to keep you awake while driving as it is very important when you are going to drive for long hours at night without any companion.
And one of the important things that you must include in the list is to avoid any type of medication that has the capability to make you feel drowsy, more than normal!
We see a lot of people complaining about feeling too sleepy after taking certain medicines. It happens because sometimes the medicines contain some compositions that are meant to calm their nerves and make them feel sleepy.
Thus, if you know that you are taking any such medicine that makes you feel drowsy or sleepy, you must avoid taking it before you head out for a long driving session. You must not take medicine for at least 10 to 15 hours before you start your journey as the impact of certain medicines can last longer than usual.
Open the Driver and Opposite Rear Windows to Create Airflow
This might not be the best way to stay awake while driving long distances at night, but for quick refreshments, opening the rear window and the driver’s window can act magic!
When you are driving for long hours, turning the AC on, or closing your car’s windows (for whatever reason) can make you feel more gloomy and exhausted in the long run. So, you must try to open the driver and opposite rear windows to let the fresh air come in and make you feel refreshed.
Though it is a tried and tested method to ditch the sleepyhead in you while driving long hours, it is not guaranteed to serve you for a longer time period. When you keep the windows open for too long, you will eventually get used to it, and the effect of freshness will fade away with time.
So, what you can do is keep the windows closed (only if you want to) and open them frequently for a mood change when you start feeling a little drowsy. By doing this frequently, it will help you deal with drowsy driving easily.
Take Plenty of Breaks (At Least Every 2 Hours)
Most car owners try to find complex solutions to their drowsy driving problems while they overlook how to stay awake while driving long distances alone in the simplest ways. One of such solutions to drowsy driving is obviously taking breaks from driving frequently.
It is suggested by automobile experts and health experts as well that whenever you acknowledge that you are feeling drowsy while driving, take a break from it!
Pull over and park your car in a safe place, get out of the car, wash your face with cold water, eat something or drink a cup of tea/coffee, walk a few minutes and then get back to driving again! By taking such frequent breaks while driving, you can easily ditch the drowsy driving concerns and feel fresh at the same time.
The main reason behind feeling drowsy while driving long hours is the monotony that grasps us. But when you take a break, you feel relaxed and refreshed, which helps in bringing back the lost energy again. You can also look out for crowded highway cafes where you can find people to talk to; it will also help in dozing off the sleep!
Chew Bubble Gum While Driving to Keep Your Mouth Busy
Chewing gum is one of the finest things to keep you awake while driving long distances alone at night. It is also considered as part of the facial exercises that have been mentioned above in the article.
When you chew gum, it keeps your mouth moving, and hence, you can ditch drowsiness easily. It is also one of the least expensive ways to deal with drowsy driving issues. You must buy a handful of chewing gum if you are going for a drive that would take 7-8 hours to be completed.
But you must refrain from buying such gums that have high sugar content, as when you suffer from a sugar crash, you will feel even more drowsy than before chewing the gum. Instead, try to buy gums that have such ingredients that have a high content of energy-building capabilities.
There are chewing gums available in the market that are rich in vitamins, L-theanine, and other similar ingredients that help in both keeping you awake while driving and also proving a rich source of nutrients in your body.
Use an Anti-Sleep Alarm with Vibrate Alert
All the techniques mentioned above to avoid sleeping during long drives are all-natural methods. But this one has some artificial touch in it! So if at all the given few tricks fail to keep you awake while driving long distances at night, you must buy a device to prevent falling asleep while driving!
There are lots of anti-sleep devices (fatigue driving warning device) available in the market that send off alarms in the form of ringtones and vibrations whenever you doze off during the driving session. These alarms are sensor-based devices that are generally placed behind the driver’s ears, and it sends a signal when the person driving feels drowsy or dozes off while being sleepy.
These alarms indeed work well in keeping you awake while driving or at least help you prevent accidents that can occur if you fall asleep while driving. You can find hundreds and thousands of different devices available in the market, but you must choose the best for your condition amongst them.
You can consider buying the Fatigue Driving Monitor Warning Device, and Alertme Lifesaver Alert – Driver Alertness System as these are the best anti-sleep alarms for drivers who have to drive long hours alone at night.
Drive Vehicle with a Lane Departure Warning System
You must still be wondering What are the best ways to stay awake while driving on a road trip? Right? Well, we have more suitable options for you! While you have little control over feeling tired or sleepy when driving for long hours, what you can do is take safety precautions to avoid dangers of any kind!
Although the anti-sleep alarms work well in alerting the drivers in conditions of dozing off, having a lane departure warning system installed in the car also works wonders in preventing the unfortunate dangers associated with the drowsy driving condition.
These lane departure working systems are installed in the cars that alert the drivers when the car tire touches the lane markers on the roads. So, if you are drifting from your straight driving path and moving towards the lane, this device will alert you immediately, and thus, you can be focused on your driving again!
This mechanism works wonderfully well in preventing accidents that result from drowsy driving issues. But sometimes, these markers might not work properly because there might not be lane markers available on certain roads. So, you must not rely ONLY on this warning system to avoid drowsy driving conditions and take other preventive measures as well!
Drive with a Partner (If Possible)
The best way to stay awake while driving at night is to gossip with your partner and take turns in driving which is not possible when you are driving alone! So, it is suggested that you drive with a partner if possible! And it is best to pick a partner who knows how to drive!
When you travel with such a partner, not only do you get company, but you can also shift driving sessions whenever you feel sleepy or tired. You can consider taking a friend, family member, or partner for such drives to make it easy for you.
You can drive for a few hours and then change the shift so that both of you can get rest and do not feel drowsy while driving for long hours. It is highly recommended for people going for long road trips who constantly drive for more than 12 hours to reach their destination.
If at all taking a partner is not possible, you can at least try to hire a professional driver who has prior experiences driving long hours without getting sleepy or drowsy to accompany you on your long road trip.
Take Your Time (Don’t Hurry)
Still thinking about how to stay awake on long drives at night, alone? Well, last but not least, take your time to drive through the roadway! Eventually, it is seen that when people intend to drive for long hours, they are usually in a hurry to reach their destination.
This attracts more danger during such long drives when you are speeding the vehicle and feeling drowsy. At the same time, you can face severe accidental conditions that can be unavoidable due to the gushing speed!
So, it is highly recommended that you keep your vehicle at a minimal speed so that you can easily pull the car aside if you feel drowsy.
If, in that case, you need to start your journey 2 hours ahead of the designated time, you can do that but always prefer giving your driving session lots of time so that even if you feel drowsy, you can take a short nap or refrain from driving for some time and still reach your destination on time.
Remember, your safety comes first, and it is always a priority even when you are out on a road trip that you may be craving for years!
How to Stay Awake While Driving Long Distances [FAQs]:
Though by far, you have already gone through the risks, symptoms, and preventive measures of drowsy driving, there may still be some questions that may cross your mind in terms of the drowsy driving condition. You may want to know if there is any medication or energy drink that can keep you awake or which are the population groups at highest risk of fatalities due to drowsy driving and similar other questions.
Thus, to address such questions, the following FAQs section is formed. Go through it and clear your queries.
Who is Most at Risk for Drowsy Driving?
In general, almost all drivers who are sleep-deprived or are doing shift driving are prone to drowsy driving conditions. But if specifically, you ask, what type of driver is most at risk for drowsy driving, then you can consider the following group of people:
(1) Young males, specifically under 26 years.
(2) Commercial drivers who have to drive for long hours.
(3) Shift workers who have to drive at night and who drive more than 60 hours a week.
(4) Business travelers who have suffered jet lags or do heavy driving.
(5) People who have sleep disorders like sleep apnea that remains untreated.
What is the Best Energy Drink to Stay Awake While Driving?
Sometimes when you feel drowsy while driving and none of the above-mentioned methods works in your favor, you can try consuming energy drinks to keep your facts straight. But you may be confused about which is the best energy drink to keep you awake while driving, right?
Well, you can trust Monster Energy Drink and Red Bull Energy Drink for this purpose. The energy content of both these drinks acts as a stabilizer between drowsiness and driving.
When you feel too drowsy, the energy drinks can supplement the energy loss you suffer and help in keeping you awake without the drowsiness!
What is the Best Device to Prevent Falling Asleep While Driving?
When you are feeling drowsy while driving and it has become a regular and unavoidable phenomenon, it is better to buy a device to prevent falling asleep while driving.
Some of the best anti-sleep alarm devices are mentioned in the article above. But you may be confused as to which one is the best anti-sleep device for drowsy drivers.
Well, you can trust the Driver Fatigue Alarm to get the best experience. It has both a vibration and sound alarm system that sends a signal whenever you feel drowsy. It is easily placed behind the ears and sends signals whenever drivers feel drowsy.
Is Falling Asleep While Driving a Crime?
Most car owners have this common question- Is falling asleep while driving a crime? Well, not really! But when drowsy driving leads to fatalities, it may be a punishable offense.
In the UK or the US, drowsy driving doesn’t pertain to any kind of criminal offense. But it is considered the same as drunk driving as both can lead to accidents leading to loss of lives and properties.
Thus, any casualties caused by drowsy driving will be subjected to a criminal offense and can attract punishments like hefty fines, jail terms, and suspension from driving. So, it is advised that you avoid driving if you are in a state of drowsiness.
What is the Best Way to Stay Awake While Driving Long Distances Alone?
According to data and reports from various sources, it has been found out that almost 60% of adult drivers feel drowsy while driving, or in some rare cases, they have fallen asleep while driving. Now, this is a dangerous fact to believe in, but it is true! When drivers feel drowsy during driving, they are more prone to making bad decisions and thereby causing accidents that can be fatal too!
Not only do they put themselves in such scary situations, but they also put other’s lives in danger who are out on the road. There are certain tricks to stay awake while driving that you can follow if you feel the same but if the condition still persists, try seeing a medical health expert who can guide you with better solutions.
If you have reached this part of the article, you might have gone through some of the best ways to keep yourself awake while driving, but it is evident that following them all is not always possible. So, to help you choose the best of the best amongst the given solutions, I would like to make some recommendations.
Here are my picks to save yourself from falling asleep or feeling drowsy while driving long distances alone:
- Get Enough Sleep Before Getting on the Road (Highly recommended!)
- Take Plenty of Breaks (Good enough to break your drowsiness pattern)
- Use a Fatigue Driving Monitor Warning Device (If the above does not help, this will surely do!)
These are my preferred ways to stay awake while driving, but you can still choose to follow the other ways if they prove to be beneficial to you in dealing with your drowsy driving issues. Also, talk to a health expert if the problem persists; do not take the problem lightly!
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