Before I begin sharing the tips to stay awake while driving, let me convince you why it’s important to be cautious.
Why stay awake while driving?
Falling asleep while driving is extremely dangerous for you and everyone else on the road. And it happens more often than you think. I have dozed off many times while driving at night after a long day of work and especially when driving on a long, endless highway with nothing but blackness around. Luckily, I caught myself after a few seconds and pulled over to refresh.
This got me thinking about what I can do in such situations to try and keep awake. Because trust me, it’s difficult. Your body argues with your rational mind to convince that a few minutes of sleep won’t matter until you succumb. And then it would be too late for your mind to realize the mistake.
So if you value your life, the passengers in your car, and the lives of others on the road, be more cautious. Read on for some tried and tested tips to stay awake while driving.
Tips to Stay Awake while driving
Stop and grab some coffee when you feel you might doze off. You can have a cup with a straw in your car’s cup holder and take sips occasionally. Caffeine is highly effective in keeping you alert. But avoid too much sugar in your coffee as it can cause a slump after a sugar high.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to put some soothing melodies that will put you to sleep. Turn up the speakers for some lively, upbeat rhythms that will make your heart pound faster. This would help you stay awake and give you an enjoyable ride!
Roll down the windows or slide open the sunroof. The cold wind whipping past will help keep you awake. Pulling over to have a break also helps. Stop and smell flowers, and splash some water on your face. Use the time to do a few stretches and a couple of squats. The exercise will have more blood rushing after many hours of sitting. Allow yourself to get cold and uncomfortable because being warm and snug would make you fall asleep.
If you can spare the time, take a 20-minute power nap. You’ll feel refreshed after that.
Drive with a partner
Having another passenger with you works in keeping you awake. Not only will they be alert and shake you if you doze off, but having someone to talk to will make you less sleepy. Have a loud and lively conversation with your partner, don’t fall silent. If your partner can drive too, it would help you to switch places and have a rest.
Get some snacks
I remember a time when we were on a long trip, and practically everyone in the car was dozing off, including the driver. So we stopped at a roadside for some very spicy snacks. It worked! I don’t know if scientifically, spicy food helps us stay awake, but it did.
Snacking will also stabilize your blood sugar levels and leaves you feeling less tired. Go for your favorite crunchies and nuts with some salt, flavor, and spice. At least the business of munching will keep you awake.
Drinking lots of water helps you stay focused. And it also makes you stop frequently to use the loo. Either way, it helps keep you awake. Seriously one of the best tips to stay awake while driving.
Occupy the brain
Listen to an exciting audiobook or an interesting lecture. Brain exercises prevent you from dozing off. If you are traveling with other passengers, play mind games and quizzes with them to stay entertained.
Sleep the night before
This is perhaps the most important tip. Never stay awake at night when you know you have a long drive the next day. Obey your body’s demands and give it the rest it needs. Nothing compensates for a good night’s sleep. So plan ahead and get your sleep debt right during a long journey.
See some light
Take a break in well-lit areas or stop to use your smartphone for a while. Incandescent lighting and smartphone screens will delay the release of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the brain before we fall asleep.
Do not consume alcohol before or during driving.
If dozing off while driving is not bad enough, being drunk and sleepy is the worst possible condition that can send your car off the edge. Also, please do not drink the night before, as it can affect the quality of your sleep. So you will not be rested enough when driving, causing you to be drowsy.
Eat an ice-cube
Having an ice cube in your mouth and chewing it helps. The cold crunchiness will help keep you alert.
If you have tried many of the tips above but still find yourself dozing off and you are still a long way from your destination, then please check in at the nearest hotel or B&B and have a good night’s sleep. Because the risks involved in drowsy driving is not worth it. Studies show that a sleep-deprived driver is akin to a drunken driver, so get your sleep debt paid off before you continue your journey.
Tips to stay awake while driving: Summary
Do not drive while feeling sleepy, thinking you can fight the sleep off. Because that few seconds of nodding can creep on you unawares, causing a lot of havoc. Follow the above tips to stay awake while driving, but if you just can’t see to stay awake, give up and get some rest.
But if you are not essentially sleep-deprived and are not on a long journey and the feeling of drowsiness while sleeping is a repetitive occurrence, then avoid driving at all. Use public transport, ride a bicycle or ask for a lift. Consult a doctor about your condition. Do not underestimate the dangers of dozing off while driving.
If you are planning on a road trip, please read our article on the best cars for camping.