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Driving sleepy is as dangerous as driving drunk—here’s how to avoid it

These tips could save your life
Sleepy driver behind the wheel of a vehicle
PHOTO: Shutterstock

It’s been a long workweek and the daily grind of life has piled on you like a bag of bricks. In short, you’re exhausted. The thing is, you still have to endure the drive home from work—and who knows how long that will take given the traffic on the roads?

Before you shrug off your fatigue and hop into your vehicle, remember this: Driving tired and sleepy is just as dangerous as driving drunk or distracted. I learned this the hard way years ago during the midday rush of things. With my body having a serious lack of rest from the previous days, I passed out and rear-ended an SUV at a red light in a usually busy intersection. Thankfully, no one got hurt—except for me, that is. Not so many will be as lucky in a similar incident, so allow me to share the wisdom I got from the episode.

Never underestimate the power of Mr. Sandman as he attempts to send you to dreamland when the road demands 100% of your mental focus. Get to your destination without endangering yourself and others with these simple tips:

1) If you’re with someone who is more than capable of taking over the wheel, don’t hesitate to ask.

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Know your limits and know when to ask for backup.

2) Give yourself a boost.

It won’t hurt to go triple on that latte, or to chug down some energy drink. Even a chocolate bar could do the trick.

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3) If you know you can’t hack the drive, don’t bother.

I often find relief in availing myself of ride-hailing services, but if you find these conveniences too costly, resort to other public transportation options—although that’s easier said than done these days. You can also hitch a ride with a colleague.

4) Do some blast calisthenics to release adrenaline.

A set of solid pushups combined with jump squats should give you a decent pump. This increases cardiovascular function to keep you frosty prior to the drive.

5) Chew some gum.

When it comes to keeping you awake, this is more effective than other bad habits like smoking cigarettes. It’s been a practice of mine to always stash a pack of gum in my storage bin or glove compartment. The continuous oral stimulation it provides pays off especially on long drives. Even sucking on a lozenge or candy can be as helpful.

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6) Power naps work.

The moment drowsiness kicks in, find a safe place to pull over like a fuel station or a well-lit shoulder. Make sure your nap doesn’t exceed 15 minutes. The moment you cross over into a deeper state of rest, you will find it harder to safely continue your drive. The idea here is to refresh and recharge your mind and body enough to regain adequate focus and control.

Remember: We are responsible not only for our own safety, but also for the safety of our passengers and everyone we share the road with. Sleep is good and valuable to your health when done in the comfort of your own bed, never while driving (obviously),so stay conscious and arrive at your destination fully intact, vehicle included.

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PHOTO: Shutterstock
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