Do tips for fending off sleep while driving really work?

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Photo Martina Misar Tummeltshammer, Unsplash
By Bob Difley
Safety is the number one objective when driving your rig on the nation’s roads, not only for your own safety but for other drivers on the road as well. There are some currently held beliefs of certain actions that you can take to keep you alert when driving, such as winding down the windows, turning on the air-conditioning, and turning up the volume on the radio.
Half of all people polled recently by Calm believe these widely held myths. Experts, however, warn that it’s a dangerous misconception, liable to risk the lives of drivers, their passengers, and others that share the road.
In a survey of 4,337 American, British, and French adults Calm found that lowering the car windows or turning up the air-conditioning will help you stay awake when driving was believed by 50% of Americans and 56% of all respondents.
“There are so many common myths about sleep that we wanted to find out which ones are, in fact, most widely believed,” says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm.
America’s National Sleep Foundation warns that such alleged “aids” to wakefulness don’t work and are downright dangerous:
“They are ineffective and can be dangerous to anyone who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy, as well as their passengers and others on the road. If you’re feeling tired while driving, pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for 15–45 minutes.”
Not only will a short nap restore you and make your driving safer, but you will feel better and likely enjoy your trip more when not having to deal with the distraction of trying to fend off sleep.

11 COMMENTS

  1. to stay awake in church it works if you raise one foot off the floor and hold it until it hurts—- maybe it would work in the RV.

  2. I have purchased caffeine gum from Amazon. It has 250 mg of caffeine that does help to keep more alert when getting sleepy while driving.

      • Apparently they use it in the military. It’s not bad. However, I t thought it was 250 mg. It’s 100mg per piece. Here is what I copied from Amazon.

        Military Energy Gum’s caffeinated gum has been clinically tested by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior and proven to be a “convenient and effective means of rapidly administering caffeine and may prove useful in ameliorating the effects of mental or physical fatigue associated with sleep deprivation or shift work.”

  3. I remember one time driving across west TX, I was so sleepy and didn’t realize it, until I hit a cow. Thank God the cow was only a leaf and I was hallucinating. It scared me so I flat refuse to do any overnight driving anymore, and that was SOP for me @ that time. Drive at night so I wouldn’t run into hardly any traffic at all. Not a good idea for me, so I drive during the day and make sure I get to a RV park or Wally-mart or somewhere long before dusk.

  4. Agree with the others. Pull over at rest stop and take nap or walk if that’s what you need. Driving when dozing is a receipt for disaster for either yourself or others.

  5. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself nodding off in the late morning both at home and on the road. (No matter how much sleep I got.) For me, one No-Doze tablet works a lot better than coffee. And it works within a few minutes.

    I then stop at the next rest stop and walk for 5 minutes. I try to stop every two hours of driving and stretch and walk.

    • Good advice to stop periodically (I tried to stop every hour) for a quick walk and stretch. It does wonders for your alertness.

  6. After many years of driving for a living I can tell you all these methods only work briefly.
    Getting a good nights rest is the best option but if that option is not available I find that stopping at the rest stops, parking in a spot far away from the bathroom, getting out and walking always helps. Eventually if you don’t pull over and get some rest you become a hazard on the highway.

    • Kurt that is a definite yes on a good night sleep, but still as age creeps up on us most need a nap. Just 30-60 minutes in the afternoon makes a total difference. And if I can’t I do take out my caffeine gum 250 mg caffeine from my center console and it does help.

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