Some Simple Remedies for a Nodding Head, Heavy Eyelids
There are people who would never skydive or whitewater raft because of the inherent danger, yet they routinely court disaster with drowsy driving.
“People will try to fight through fatigue and it puts everyone at risk,” said Ronald Knipling, author of “Safety for the Long Haul” a comprehensive textbook embraced by the trucking industry. “Self-awareness is the real issue.”
More than a third of American drivers confess to drifting off in the driver’s seat, according to a report from the National Sleep Foundation. Drowsy driving results in roughly 100,000 crashes and more than 1,500 deaths a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drivers can’t have the mindset of powering through the fatigue–there’s simply no fighting human physiology, Knipling said.
“Cracking a window or turning up the volume on the radio don’t work,” he said. “Your best bets are to take a quick nap, get some caffeine or do some exercise to get your heart rate up.”
A nap is the best quick fix, but that roadside power nap shouldn’t be longer than 20 or 30 minutes and should be done in a safe place like a designated rest area or a well-lit parking lot.
Exposure to bright light can also reinvigorate you, he said.
“Take a walk in the sunlight. If it’s night, drink a cup of coffee in a brightly lit restaurant.”
A healthier lifestyle works wonders for alertness. A balanced diet and sufficient sleep are major contributors in reducing driver fatigue, said Knipling.
“A lack of stimulation or boredom won’t ordinarily cause an alert driver to become drowsy.”
Knipling offers the following tips on drowsy driving:
- Live well, drive well: Proper diet, exercise and restful sleep make you a more alert driver.
- Don’t fight exhaustion: A 20- to 30-minute power nap in a safe place can recharge you for the next leg of your journey.
- Stretch your legs: Pull over and get some light cardio exercise in to get the blood pumping. Supplement the exercise with a caffeinated drink and you should feel alert shortly.