Of course, the most obvious way for anyone to prevent drowsy driving is to get a good night’s sleep. But too many of us have developed poor sleeping habits. Here is some advice, culled from the National Sleep Foundation and the Snoring Center, on how to improve your sleep hygiene. You may want to pass these tips along to your drivers.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol too close to bedtime. Though alcohol can initially speed the onset of sleep, it later disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol. Also, remember that chocolate has caffeine.
- Exercise in the morning or late afternoon. Later, a relaxing exercise, such as yoga, can help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
- Avoid meals too close to bedtime. If you’re struggling with insomnia, avoid spicy foods altogether.
- During the day, get adequate exposure to natural light. Light exposure helps you maintain a healthy sleep-awake cycle.
- Establish a relaxing routine to help you wind down before bedtime. Read a book, listen to soft music or take a warm bath, for example.
- Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations just before bedtime. Don’t dwell on your problems as you’re trying to fall asleep.
- If you’re having sleep problems, keep the TV, computer and mobile phone out of the bedroom.
- Make sure your sleep environment is as comfortable and relaxing as possible -- the right temperature, level of light and number of blankets.
- When possible, try to go to bed each night at the same time and arise the next day at the same time.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following warning signs indicate that it’s time for a driver to stop and find a safe place to pull over and address his or her condition:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids
- Difficulty keeping reveries or daydreams at bay
- Trouble keeping your head up
- Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating or hitting rumble strips
- Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven
- Missing exits or traffic signs
- Yawning repeatedly
- Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive.
To learn more about the dangers of drowsy driving and how fatigue can lead to microsleep, click on the photo or link above.