I dedicate this article to the phenomena of what is called sleep driving. It is very much like sleep walking with a few differences. It is also referred to as sleep deprived driving or drowsy driving. Mine was neither. I simply slept at the wheel. I always had a good nights sleep yet I still suffered from these episodes. It came about after a three car accident. Whether that contributed I don't know.
It seemed to be worse in certain places and seemingly nonexistent in others. Another mystery to me.
I dedicate this article to one place in particular and that is hwy 127 in Michigan near Grayling.
Before I do I want to warn that Ambien has been linked to sleep driving. Sleep driving is where the person usually doesn't remember the events taking place up to the sleep driving incident. In this case after taking Ambien. It is strongly discouraged to take anti depressants, alcohol or other drugs with Ambien.
Sleep driving can be very serious with persons smashing into parked cars, trees, driving on the wrong side of the road, leaving the scene of an accident and being completely unaware of these actions.
I didn't take Ambien so mine was brought on by something else. There are other prescription medications that also cause sleep driving so it's very important to read the labels very carefully and try to insure no driving will take place after taking certain medications.
Fortunately, I never got into an accident but I could have.
I made several posts about this on my blog.
As I was saying in the earlier post Hwy 127 near Grayling Michigan always was the weirdest for me. I seemed to experience this sleep driving more here than any other place.
So one day I decided to do an experiment. The first time I ever experienced sleeping at the wheel I left where I was staying, got in my car which I have little to no memory of except vaguely I remember having no shoes on and from there started driving. Sometime later driving down the highway I woke up at the wheel almost out of gas and realized I must stop or run out(I have no money with me). I'll worry about that later I think. The next morning I thankfully find some money I'd stuffed into the side pocket of my car. Change at a drive thru I didn't want to be bothered with putting in my purse. I leave and go back to where I'm staying.
Two nights later I decide to drive down the same path as before only this time I drank plenty of high energy coffee, the kind that usually keeps me up for 24 to 36 hours without sleep so I figure I'm guaranteed to stay awake certainly at midnight. I had woken up the first time around two in the morning( I know this because someone saw me leave around this time). When I woke up at the wheel it was 4:30 in the morning.
On this night I'm wide awake and not tired in the least. I made sure to sleep most of the day and drank plenty of high energy coffee so as not to get sleepy. I'm so awake and keyed up from all the coffee that I'm practically twitching. Unfortunately, it didn't work. At some point I must have stopped or just plain fell asleep at the wheel but pretty much the same thing happened. I don't know what time I went to sleep but I woke up again at roughly 4:30 in the morning. Fortunately with money this time.
I did this experiment one more time in the same area of hwy 127 with the same results. At one point I remember nothing except waking up because I was trying to drive my car over a cement barrier and down an embankment. That was really scary.
When I experimented with other places especially after drinking coffee this did not happen. Sure after long hours of driving I would get tired just like any one else but I never stopped someplace to wake up in the middle of the night and leave and go on a sleepy drive to who knows where. I never actually woke up at the wheel anywhere else and I most definitely never got sleepy after drinking coffee. It seemed to just be in this one area.
At one point I woke up in the middle of the night(at the efficiency I was staying at at which was a couple of hours from Grayling) and had this sudden desire to go outside and check everything on my car and make sure everything was working fine. That was the last thing I remember. On this occasion I ended up somewhere near Grayling. This happened another time only I managed to force myself to stay in bed. Needless to say I did not sleep well that night.
On two other occasions my car wouldn't start one time(very strange, the next morning it was fine) and the other occasion the key wouldn't turn(I'm guessing I put in the wrong key, I carried two sets of keys on my keychain). Both times I woke up trying to get my car started.
This area always felt somewhat weird or off kilter to me but I never could put my finger on it.
Some tell me a higher power was at work protecting me.
I wrote this awhile back and one thing I learned to do over time was better gauge when I started to feel tired. It could have been only after a few minutes of driving but I always knew that I had to stop. That meant getting home as quickly as was safely possible and if I was too far to do that it meant stopping someplace for the night. Much of the time it was in the middle of the day. Some people I knew would laugh at me because I would stop someplace and take a nap in my car. But it was better than getting into an accident and it was not feasible to stop at a motel to take a 2 hour nap at 10 or 11 AM and I knew if I was more than half an hour from home trying to make it back probably wasn't a good idea.
Over time I learned to pay better attention to my body and if I needed to sleep I slept.
There is also driving hypnosis(road hypnosis) which can occur after many long hours on the road of staring in front of you. This too is dangerous as you can easily fall asleep or not be aware of what is going on around you. Your senses are definitely dulled and you are not as alert as you should be. It is a good idea to stop frequently and get out of the car and walk around. I found that eating something usually helped. Many people think that drinking coffee will suffice but it's better to eat a little something with the coffee. By eat I mean a small sandwich rather than cookies or candy.
I can't warn enough, if you are driving and feel yourself getting sleepy, stop. It could be your life or the lives of others.
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