If you make a living on the road, you may often think about how to stay awake while driving. Although you may be tempted to load up on coffee, energy drinks, and sugary snacks, these old standbys are as ineffective at keeping you awake as they are unhealthy. Use our tips to stay awake and alert the healthy way.
How to Stay Awake While Driving
Improve Your Sleep Routine
Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is essential to your overall health, but how much is enough? According to the National Institutes of Health, most adults need seven to eight hours each night – no surprise there! If you, like most people, average a far less optimal number, a good catnap before hitting the road can really help. Twenty-minute “power naps” can help during your route, too, so pull over if you need a little shuteye. Although naps can’t provide all the benefits of night-time sleep, they can give you a boost of energy. Focus first on getting eight hours of sleep each night, and then use power naps as a backup in emergencies.
Stay Sharp on the Road
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has daily driving limits in place for a reason. If you’re one of countless truck drivers wondering how to stay awake while driving, limiting long stretches of driving is key. The Centers for Disease Control warns that sleep deprivation slows your reaction time, hampers your decision-making abilities, and reduces your attention span (source). These factors can affect the way you handle driving hazards, such as inexperienced drivers, roaming deer, and trash in the road.
Nix Junk Food and Caffeine
Here’s another tip if you’ve been worried about how to stay awake while driving: eat well. If you’ve tried raiding gas station candy aisles only to experience a sugar crash later, you know how ineffective sweet treats are at waking you up. Coffee has a similar effect, but it will also make you frequently pull over to rest-stop bathrooms. Proteins and complex carbs, which come from health-boosting whole foods, are a better bet. Get your carbs in the form of green and starchy vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These “good carbs” provide the following benefits:
- Improved brain function
- Less anxiety and nervousness
- A healthier sleep routine
- Optimal metabolic function
- Healthier digestive processes
These foods also supply your body with the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. Almost everyone falls off the dietary wagon from time to time, but fatigue and the seductive glow of giant roadside fast-food and truck-stop signs render truck drivers even more vulnerable to empty calories. So though the road may test your self-control, do your best to maintain a healthy diet.
Get Some Audio Stimulation
If your curiosity about how to stay awake while driving still hasn’t been satisfied, consider some audio stimulation. Your favorite high-energy music can keep you going on long hauls. Or maybe you just prefer a good sing-along, no matter what’s playing in your current locale. Audio books can also help keep you up when the sky turns dark or the scenery gets particularly boring. Choose engrossing books, whether fiction of non-fiction, about topics that interest you to keep your mind engaged and your body awake. Whichever form of auditory entertainment you prefer, turn up the volume!
Get Out Once in a While
Opening the windows can initially help you stay on your game, but this popular trick only works for so long. Consider getting out of your truck every once in a while for real results. Try to move around, whether that means stretching, exercising, or taking a quick walk. Get your blood circulating and enjoy a healthy dose of fresh air for a quick boost on long hauls.
At this point, we hope it’s clear that maintaining healthy sleeping and eating habits is essential for those who drive for a living. Coupled with on-the-road brain boosters and healthy pick-me-ups, these tricks can help you avoid sleep deprivation during your drives. Pass these tips on to anyone who needs to know how to stay awake while driving — for their own safety as well as everyone who shares the road with them.
Are you interested in becoming a truck driver? You can learn everything you need to know at the Truck Dynasty Driving Academy, a professional truck driver training program that involves 160 clock hours and four weeks of professional driver training. In addition, current drivers can use the refresher course to sharpen and develop their skills. To get started, please give us a call at 417-831-8188, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!