After a very long day of getting up early, working non-stop, and racing around to do all of your errands, you’re ready to make the commute home to get dinner ready and maybe make a dent on some last-minute projects before getting to bed. The trouble is, you’ve been having a hard time sleeping at night, and you find yourself yawning, daydreaming, and struggling to keep your eyes open as you drive home. You’d give anything to curl up and nap a little, but you’d much rather keep going so you can crash at home in the comfort of your own bed.
Unfortunately, statistics have shown that doing so is a dangerous decision. Drowsy driving is a very real hazard on the road. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving accounts for more than 100,000 accidents annually. Even though everyone on the road is at risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that those who work a night shift or long hours, don’t get enough sleep, have untreated sleep disorders, use certain medications, and commercial drivers are much more likely to drive drowsy.
So how can you make sure that you’re at your most alert when you’re behind the wheel? Follow these 4 tips below to keep yourself and others safe on the road!
Get Enough Sleep – One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep every night. The National Sleep Foundation says that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night in order to stay in tip-top shape. Be sure that you’re going to bed at a reasonable hour so you’ll wake up refreshed.
Plan Ahead – Have a business trip coming up? Need to go somewhere that’s in a different time zone for a few days? Get ahead of the game by allowing your body’s internal clock to slowly adapt for these trips by adjusting your sleeping times bit by bit. Make sure that you are also well-rested for your trip the night before you need to leave!
Limit the Effects of Shift Work – Those who work overnight or long hours, also known as shift workers, have a higher chance of getting less sleep and driving drowsy. If you can, talk to your employer about getting on a more consistent work schedule. If you’re not able to, try setting a bedtime that you will stick to every day, even on your days off, and make sure that your bedroom is quiet and dark to help you get to sleep quickly and soundly.
Be Aware of Medical Issues – If you’ve been having consistent problems with drowsy driving, it’s best to consult with your doctor. You might have a sleep disorder or any other medical issue that is causing you issues behind the wheel. Once you know exactly what’s going on, you can begin to adjust your driving habits accordingly.
Remember, if you’re sleepy behind the wheel, you’re not just putting yourself at risk – you’re putting the lives of other drivers on the road at risk as well. If you feel your eyelids drooping and are struggling to stay awake and aware of your surroundings, please consider pulling over in a safe location and taking a short nap before you continue to drive. It could safe your life!