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How to Stay Awake and Alert while Driving at Night

Updated on June 6, 2014

We have all had to take long trips and many involve driving at night. It can be very dangerous and increase the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. These are a few tips to help avoid that kind of situation and safely arrive at your destination.

Skip the Restroom

Don't use the restroom as soon as you feel the need to. Everyone knows it is difficult to sleep when you have the urge to urinate.

Be Uncomfortable

If you sleep best in a cold place, crank the heat up. If you sleep best in a warm place, crank up the air conditioning in your car. Move your seat to a position you are not used to and that isn't the most comfortable. If you are not comfortable, your will be less likely to fall asleep.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Do not stare straight ahead the whole time you are driving. You need to keep your eyes moving almost constantly. Do not keep your eyes focused on one thing for more that three seconds. Alternate looking in front of you, in the rear-view mirror and the side mirrors. Avoid looking directly into the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you.

Howcast- How to Stay Awake While Driving

Get Out and Stretch

If you are getting very tired while driving, you need to get out of the vehicle to stretch and get your heart rate up. Do some jumping jacks, push ups, run around the car a few times and touch your toes.

Sip on Water

Make sure you have some cold water with you during your drive. Carbonated water is even better. Sip your water throughout the drive. This will keep your more alert and so will your full bladder.

Get Used to Being Awake at Night

If you plan to drive during a time when you would normally be sleeping, you need to get used to being awake at that time. For at least a few days before your night drive, start going to bed earlier or waking up earlier. Do whichever you need to do so that your body has gotten accustomed to being awake during the time of night you plan to drive.

Eat Small Healthy Snacks

Skip the sugar, caffeine and simple carbohydrates. You need to consume things that will give you sustained energy instead of sudden jolts that will bring you down after a short burst of energy. Stick to complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread or crackers and fruits. Do not eat all of your snacks at once. If your stomach is too full, you will want to sleep. Eat enough to keep your hunger away and your blood sugar levels even.

Play Some Music

Turn on your radio and listen to some music. Play it loud and then play it soft. Play music you don't like. You need to constantly be changing things so that you don't get too accustomed to it. If you get used to whatever music is playing, you can get drowsy.

Turn the Lights on

Turn on the dome light on the inside of your vehicle. Your body produces melatonin when it is dark. This chemical tells your body that it is time to sleep. This will take away some of the darkness and help you to trick your body into thinking that it is not night time.

How do you stay awake and alert while driving?

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Close Your Eyes

If you have tried everything else and you feel like you are going to fall asleep, try closing your eyes. Pull over on the side of the road or somewhere safe. Do not take a nap, just close your eyes for a few minutes. This will hopefully help your eyes feel more rested and you can continue to drive safely.

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    • Learning in Life profile image
      Author

      Megan Sisko 4 years ago from SW Florida

      For the talk radio to work, it would definitely have to be something that gets you fired up. Otherwise, listening to people talk about something that you couldn't care less about will put you to sleep in a hurry.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      These are great tips. Not using the bathroom, helps me stay awake, because all you can think about is going to the bathroom. I also like to listen to talk radio. If I am really tired I listen to talk radio that I do not agree with. It makes me so mad what they say, that it forces me to stay awake.

    • hardlymoving profile image

      hardlymoving 4 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Then set your nap to a timer that will wake you up before you go into a deep sleep. Trying to stay awake and alert for hours on end on the interstate is dangerous. Let your eyes close for a few seconds and before you know it, you've lost control of your car. If you're tired, pull over, make frequent stops before you endanger yourself and other drivers around you.

    • Learning in Life profile image
      Author

      Megan Sisko 4 years ago from SW Florida

      Some people don't wake up from a nap refreshed (like me). If I take any length of a nap, I am even more tired afterwards.

    • hardlymoving profile image

      hardlymoving 4 years ago from Memphis, TN

      How about just pulling over and taking a nap. Around a 1/2 hour and I'm good to go.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      Chewing ice just keeps me busy and alert...then, because I have usually had a full cup of soda with the I've I have to use the bathroom which also keeps me alert...

    • Learning in Life profile image
      Author

      Megan Sisko 4 years ago from SW Florida

      I have heard of the ice idea but how does that help you? I have never tried it.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 4 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I used to drive at night a lot when my oldest daughter was in college across the state from home. I did many of these things to keep awake. What helped me the most is loud music and chomping on ice...

      Great information!