Do you feel yourself nodding off after a long day of driving? It’s a scary feeling, but we’ve all been there. Every trucker has felt the weariness of the day tug his or her eyelids down. Driving can be hypnotic. The hum of the engine, the warm sun, and dotted white center lines can lull your brain into a dreamlike state. While you won’t be able to avoid fatigue all the time, here are several tips to keep you alert and focused on your long drives:
- Crank up the AC. The colder the cab, the less likely you are to drift off. If the weather is cold, roll down that window. The blast of fresh air will revive you.
- Avoid heavy, fatty meals. Rich meals laced with sugar and fats will sap all of your energy because it requires a lot to digest. You may feel so exhausted that it’s hard to keep your eyes open. Stick to lighter, healthier meals, such as grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, turkey burgers, and fresh fruits and veggies.
- Listen to awful music (or infuriating talk radio). The more you hate the music, the more alert you’ll be. A new album can’t hurt, either. You’ll pay special attention to the lyrics.
- Sit up straight and keep good posture. Having a nice alignment opens up your lungs and lifts your diaphragm off the organs in your middle, increasing lung capacity and helping along the flow of blood. This will help you stay focused and alert.
- Avoid taking medications during driving hours that can make you drowsy. This sounds like a no-brainer, but some people aren’t aware of the side effects of their meds. Even blood pressure meds can make you feel extremely drowsy and dizzy. Some anti-depressants have a similar effect and should only be taken at bedtime. Consult with your doctor to learn the most effective times to take these meds.
- Avoid too much caffeine. The inevitable crash later could make you doubly tired.
- Pull over and exercise. If you find yourself unbearably tired, stop off at a truck or rest stop and do some light exercising to get the blood flowing. Jumping jacks, sit-ups, and running in place for 15-20 minutes can make you feel much more alert.
- Pop in an audio book. Maybe try something scary. A good book can keep you focused for hours.
- Stub out the cigarette. Nicotine and other chemicals inside cigarettes can lead to irritability, exhaustion, and mental fatigue.
- Talk to yourself. Have an illuminating conversation and get to know yourself again.
What are some tips you have for staying awake? We’d love to hear it in the comments!