You’ve been on the road for hours. And you’ve got hours to go.
There’s the hum of the tires on the pavement, music playing from the radio, the seat is super comfy and … wait, what was that? Did you just nod off?
Come to think of it, your eyes have been heavy for awhile now. This isn’t good, there’s just no way you’re going to make it the rest of the way. It’s time to pull over and catch some Zs. Just a little nap before finishing the haul.
If you’ve ever had to fight driving fatigue, you’re familiar with a difficult debate: Do you stop, take a nap or wake yourself up, or do you keep driving so you don’t lose time and hope for the best?
There are ways to help you avoid this scenario. In fact, some good habits and tools can go a long way in helping you stay awake and energized for a full trip.
It sounds obvious, but taking a nap before getting in your vehicle is a big help. Studies show that even napping for less than an hour gives the body a crucial rest that will help you stay awake and alert well into the night.
And while you’re on the road, if fatigue strikes, pull over and take a 20-minute power nap. The worst thing you can do is try to fight it. It’s understandable you want to save some time and push through, but it’s not worth risking yourself and anyone else on the road.
If you’re yawning, you’re heads nodding and your eyes are glazing over, it’s time move. Pull over, get out of the cab and move those legs. Do some stretches, walk around your truck, just do something to get moving. If you’ve been sitting for an extended time, you need to get your blood moving again. Studies show a 10-minute walk can boost your energy level for two hours.
If you need an excuse, pull over and get some food or do an inspection. Just find a way to break up the long drive and wake up.
Your pre-drive meal can help or hurt your chances of staying awake. A salty, sugary meal is going to bog you down and make you tired while a healthy meal will do the opposite. Complex carbs and proteins give long-lasting stamina. Eating whole grains, fruits and veggies along with taking vitamins like B and C during the meal will boost your energy for the long haul.
When it comes to drinks, stay away from coffee and caffeinated energy drinks. Caffeine causes your energy to spike before the crash, and it dehydrates you. Dehydration causes fatigue, so avoid it. Instead, drink lots of water. You may not get that initial energy spike, but staying hydrated is the best way to stay awake.
Find some tricks
If you’re starting to feel tired, we recommend you pull over. However, if you’re bound and determined to push through, there are tricks you might try to keep your eyes open and your mind focused.
— Open the windows and let the air flow it. A warm, cozy cab isn’t going to help you stay awake, but a rush of cool air can jolt you.
— How about listening to music or an audio book? Turn it up and let the noise flow. Audio books stimulate your mind and music stimulates your mood.
— Snack on something or chew gum.
— Use an electronic device. There are devices out there you can buy and put in your ear that will let out a screech when you fall asleep.
These are some of the many ideas to keep yourself awake while on a long haul. The key is to play it smart and safe. Get the proper amount of rest, food and liquids so you can maintain a focused drive the whole way. We understand you want to reach your destination in good time, but if you have to pull off and wake yourself up or rest, do it. Falling asleep on the road and causing an accident is going to hurt your reputation a lot more than being a few minutes late.
Oh by the way, do you need some great places to stop while on the road? Downloaded our Trucker Convenience guide today for a full list of the best places to stop along I-75. It’s free and it’s got great information on restaurants, gas stations and road stops along the way.
— Sources; North Dixie Truck and Trailer, Inc.; The Truckers Report