How to avoid driving drowsy

Posted by Ben Davidson about 2 months ago


Sleep isn’t just something you do because the sun has set and there’s nothing new to watch on streaming services. Your body needs sleep. Sleep is, in fact, chemically induced - between 8PM and 8AM, the body releases a sleep hormone called melatonin, peaking at maximum sleepiness between around 2AM to 4AM. But what if you need to drive between late evening and early morning? What if you find yourself behind the wheel when you start to feel your head nodding momentarily forwards under the weight of your leaden eyelids?


Drowsy driving can result in road accidents. For example, a night time collision caused by a sleepy driver crossing lanes is a scenario that is not unknown to the emergency services. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, contact a car accident lawyer serving the Columbia area. 


Spotting the signs of drowsiness


First things first in the battle against falling asleep at the wheel. You need to learn to spot the signs of drowsiness, because the rumble strip won’t always be there. There are, of course, obvious signs that sleepiness is creeping in, such as repeated yawning and eye rubbing, but accompanying these physical symptoms are things like feeling irritable whilst being incapable of remembering the past few miles of roads. You could also miss exits and begin to find yourself driving in ways you wouldn’t normally drive, such as tailgating or speeding. 


Tips to combat drowsy driving


Driving a vehicle means making a series of multiple instant decisions every single second. Obviously, drowsiness has the potential to delay or completely prevent those decisions from taking place, increasing the possibility of a car accident. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can prevent driving while drowsy:


  • Get enough sleep 

The first tip is simply to get enough sleep to begin with. A full tank of sleep can keep you going for longer in the same way a full tank of fuel will power your car.


  • Avoid the midnight to 6AM sleep trap

As previously mentioned, your daily body clock is on a sleep timer that is ringing at its peak between 2AM to 4AM. If you can, avoid driving at these times, and even avoid driving for an extra two hours either side of these hours. 


  • Long distance driving? Try the buddy system 

Driving over long distances with a friend in the car can help keep you awake. Your buddy can also take over at the wheel when you feel too drained to continue. Admittedly, your buddy will need to sleep, too. But between you, you can switch drivers at critical points so that the most awake driver can get you to a safe place to stop for the night.


The very last tip is to make driving as uncomfortable as possible. Wind your windows down. Switch the radio from a sleepy talk show to an upbeat music station and sing along. Make sure your chair is in the upright position - avoid a reclining position. And always use this time to find somewhere to stop (you can’t drive forever on no sleep!).

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