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7 Summer Road Trip Tips for Staying Awake

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June 16, 2022 Uncategorized

Have you ever seen the Netflix series Awake? It’s a game show where the contestants stay up for 24 hours straight before being tasked with challenges – simple to those who would be well-rested – on their journey to win $1 million. One interesting aspect is that the show will educate you as to why that challenge would be so difficult for someone who is sleep deprived.  

Israeli researchers have discovered when someone’s sleepy, their brain doesn’t just slow down its reactions, it also slows down individual neurons in our brain. This also affects the brain’s visual perception and memory associations, “leading to delayed behavioral responses to events taking place around us.” Simple challenges such as threading a needle or catching as many dollar bills as you can (like in Awake’s Netflix Trailer) end up being not so simple. Memory loss, troubles focusing, and delayed responses- what else does that sound like to you? 

That’s right- CDC even states that drowsy driving is almost identical to drunk driving: lack of sleep can make you less alert and affects your coordination, judgement, and reaction time while driving. Even though (we hope) nobody would intentionally plan a sleepless Colorado road trip adventure, we’re going to take a look at some summer road trip tips for staying awake and alert through those rough patches. 

 What Defines A “Good” Driver? 

Before we dive into some summer road trip tips for staying awake, let’s define what makes a “good” driver. Transfers Magazine argues that a good driver is a combination of one’s technical skills combined with one’s safety skills.  

“Technical skills include steering, reflexes, smooth braking and acceleration, ability to judge distances, and other measures of the driver’s ability. Safety skills measure situational and contextual awareness, including driver awareness of their surroundings, considerate use of turn indicators, obeying the speed limit, and not being distracted.”  

As one could conclude, attention to detail decreases as drowsiness increases. The Sleep Foundation warns and proves, ”drowsiness has serious effects on a driver’s attention, judgment, decision-making, coordination, vigilance, and reaction time.” You cannot be a “good” driver if you are fatigued behind the wheel. 

How to Monitor Your Sleepiness 

Ultimately, if you know you are getting sleepy, just pull over to a safe location and take a nap or find a rest stop to sleep it off. Being fatigued while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions, so let’s not become part of these statistics: according to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving accounts for around 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries, 1,550 fatalities, and according to AAA, contributes to an estimated 9.5% of all crashes.  

“The task of driving deserves 100% of your attention, 100% of the time.” – Cognitive Distractions While Driving and Why Daydreaming is So Dangerous 

But how can you tell you need to start using these tips and advice for staying alert behind the wheel? Here are some quick signs from the Sleep Foundation so you can better understand how to monitor your sleepiness: 

How to stay awake summer road trip

Tips for Staying Awake 

Now that you recognize the signs of fatigued driving, let’s take a look at some ideas and tips for how to plan ahead to stay awake and alert during your next summer road trip! 

1. Stay Cool 

If you have ever tried to stay alert sitting down in a warm room, you know how difficult it can be to fight off sleep. Try to stay cool in the car, especially driving in the warm Colorado sun. Our environment can greatly affect our sleep and our ability to stay awake. Turning down the temperature (perhaps 68 degrees or even a few degrees cooler), will help you to stay alert. 

2. Don’t Drive Alone 

Drive with a companion! From a (chatty) friend to converse and stay attentive with, to swapping drivers every two hours, plan your next summer road trip with some company.  

3. Plan for More Time 

Take naps, obey the speed limit, and take plenty of breaks. Plan for extra driving time so you don’t feel rushed. 

4. Stick to Your Typical Sleep Schedule 

America’s Car Mart has some great advice for staying awake during a long drive: avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. Whatever your sleep schedule may be, don’t drive during your normal hours of sleep. 

5. Pack (Healthy) Snacks 

While you may want to reach for candy or chips at the gas station, opt for the healthier choices with natural sugars. Snacks like fruit, vegetables, and nuts are packed with natural sugars and energy for an extra boost on the road. Avoid fast food and other junk foods with fat, salt, and unnatural sugars that make you more lethargic. If you’re starting to yawn, grab some sugar-free gum to chew on! 

6. Practice Good Posture 

Slouching can cause your body to take in 30 percent less oxygen than when you sit up straight. Take some deep breaths to increase blood oxygen levels and practice good posture to stay awake. 

7. Move Around 

Make a pit stop and move round to get the blood flowing. Get some fresh air, stretch your legs, and maybe even go for a short walk or do some jumping jacks.  

The Ultimate Road Trip Tip 

Expect the unexpected! Take inventory of your car’s safety kit to make sure it’s stocked and updated, make sure your car is running properly, fill up on gas, and brush up on the laws specific to your road trip location (eg. motorcycles or driving through the mountains).  

Part of preparing for the unexpected is to have everything prepared for the unforeseen accident that may occur. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a car accident lawyer, and what you can expect from the attorneys at Fuicelli & Lee.