How to Stay Awake Behind the Wheel
Staying awake on the road is the most important thing to think about when driving. Driving while tired or drowsy is as dangerous as driving while drinking because your judgement is just as impaired. Loading up on coffee and energy drinks might seem like an easy way out, but they'll do you more harm than good. We've gathered some research from the sleep foundation and added our own tips and tricks for a quick guide to staying awake on those long trucking missions.
According to sleepfoundation.org, the best way to stay awake while driving is to prepare as best you can ahead of time. They mention that getting 7-8 hours of sleep before you plan on embarking on your driving journey is the key to keeping your mind and body alert, and they also recommend a pre-nap to be taken right before the trip. Aside from that their recommendations include pulling over to take a 20 minute nap, and using the buddy system to nap while your buddy drives.
Along with these preventative measures, we wanted to add some of our own stragegies for staying awake when you just need a little extra nudge of help. Although the sleep foundation frowns upon using caffeine as a method for staying awake, some of us addicts are already doomed and there is no turning back. If you must get your daily does of caffeine into your veins at the crack of dawn, don't turn immediately to energy drinks; try coffee first. Black coffee can have a grounded dirt sort of taste and too much sugar and creamer defeat the purpose of getting a coffee instead of an energy drink. If the taste of coffee itself is too high on the gnar scale for you, try it with some natural sweetener like honey and add some unsweetened almond milk for some extra protein and taste. This will give you the boost of caffeine you need, without the added sugar that crashes you right back into the ground a couple of hours later. Whatever you choose to drink, make sure you're also getting your daily 2 liters of water in to avoid dehydration which is natures most natural sleeping pill.
Aside from going healthier with your caffeine intake, singing out loud or recording yourself a little voice diary is a huge help too. Maybe diary isn't the most enticing word choice so instead they can be your trucking memoirs that you plan to publish after a 20 year career. Whatever the case may be, keeping yourself talking keeps your brain engaged and keeps it from wandering off to dream land.
Last but not least the best way to stay awake has to be snacking. This doesn't have to be as complicated as cutting up vegetables, fruits, etc. but can be as easy as buying bulk snacks and simply dividing them into smaller portions. This method will keep you snacking all day long, and the portions will be small so your metabolism will be thanking you. It's a better habit than eating a whole 13 ounce bag of chips to yourself!
No matter what your trick for staying behind the wheel is, drowsiness behind the wheel is not something to take lightlyso if you ever feel yourself drifting to sleep while driving, the only trick should be to pull over and sleep it off. If you want to combat a slight heaviness of the eyelids, or the concern of a drifting stops, then check out some of these methods.