Hey Sleepy Head. Wake Up!!!

Staying Alert behind the Wheel

I have taken a lot of road trips in my life.  Some of these trips I was driving 21 hrs straight.  I sometimes wonder if I should drive big rigs for a living.  In my younger days I was willing to drive drowsy just to get to my destination faster.  Driving sleepy is a terrible idea and I am so lucky that I didn't get killed or kill someone when I used to drive in that dangerous condition.  With time, experience, and a little growing up, I have been able to find ways to stay awake and alert at the wheel for long periods of time.  Here are a few of my tricks.

Don't rely to heavily on Music.

Music is great to listen to while driving but when I start feeling the lull of the road rocking me gently and my mind starts to drift, music becomes apart of the lullabye.  If it is a song I know or a song I don't know I will either tune it out or let it coax me into droopy eye syndrome (thats when your eyes start closing and you don't realized it).  I have found that instead of using music to stay awake talking to someone is much better.  If using a mobile phone to talk be sure to use a hands-free device for safety and to keep your neck from getting sore while trying to hold the phone between your head and shoulder.  Try to have your phone contacts on voice command so you don't have to look at your phone to call.  This will keep you from getting too distracted.  If you have no one to call try listening to an audio book.  It is especially helpful if the audio book requires you to talk back to it.  For instance, studying a foreign language or reciting poetry.  The trick is to keep your mind engaged and your mouth moving.

Eat Healthy and Crunchy

Filling up on junk food on a long road trip is a quick way to get to drowsy.  Lots of sugar will eventually lead your body to a crash as it comes down from all the quick energy.  This will leave you more tired than when you started eating.  Caffeine has a similar reaction which is why a lot of long distant drivers drinnk multiple caffeinated drinks.  Try instead to eat good foods that give you long lasting energy.  Water and other hydrating drinks will ultimately help you stay awake in the long run.  That all being said, I am not opposed to a boost if you need to just make it a little further.  An energy drink is not healthy but will help you stay awake a bit longer. My favorite trick is crunchy food.  It isn't always healthy but if the food I eat rattles my brain while I am eating it, it will keep me up just as long as any energy drink.  Corn nuts are a great crunch snack.  Some others are carrots, chips, peanuts, ice, and celery.  These keep my mouth active and my head shaking.

My Ace Card!

Though it is also a food it is the singularly best snack at keeping me alert on the road and therefore gets its own paragraph.  Sunflower seeds!  I just grab a small hand full and work my teeth into cracking the shells spitting them out and eating the seeds.  This keeps me so engaged that I can extend road trips by hours more before I have to stop.  It is also tasty.  Keep an empty cup or bottle that you can grab easily to spit the shells in.  One downside is when you eat a rotten seed.  It is terrible but it does wake you up.

One Last Thing

Do not drive tired!  It is more important to be safe.  If these tips are not working for you then pull over and take a nap.  I find that as I get older I am doing this tip a lot more.  I think ultimately it is better to be safe than on time.