We’ve all been there – You’re headed out the door after a long day at work, and you’re feeling a bit too tired to make the drive. Or, you’re on the final leg of a long, sleepless road trip…just a few more hours and you will have reached your destination! The best way to stay awake and alive is to get a full 8 hours of sleep. A night of restful sleep provides myriad health benefits, one of the most important being an overall sense of alertness. If you can’t get your zzzs, here are some ideas to keep you alert:
- Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will keep your body cool and will keep you alert.
- Eat sunflower seeds. Something about opening up the seeds to eat the insides keeps your brain focused and alert.
- Chew gum. Similar to eating sunflower seeds, chewing gum also keeps your mind awake.
- Listen to stand-up comedy. Listening to a person talk and be consistently funny (unlike some talk radio) will keep your brain focused but your eyes on the road. Plus, laughing while driving never hurt anyone.
- Keep an essential oil on hand to sniff. This may sound strange, but a quick sniff of peppermint or rosemary oil when you are getting drowsy can wake you up. Peppermint is a natural stimulant that increases alertness and decreases fatigue.
- Blast your A/C. Keeping a cool temperature in the vehicle can help you from becoming too comfortable and drifting off.
- Use eye drops to keep your eyes moisturized. Staring at the road for a long amount of time makes you forget to blink! Keep eye drops on hand for when your eyes dry out. If you wear contacts, always travel with an extra pair.
- Sing along to a playlist. Create a playlist of music that you know all the words to. Think: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Alcohol by Brad Paisley, Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind, or Africa by Toto. Belting out these songs will improve your concentration. No air guitar though- keep your hands on the wheel!
- Snack regularly. Keep healthy low-carb, high-energy snacks on hand. For example: apples, raspberries, and other fruits, almonds and other nuts, or string cheese.
- Talk to someone on the phone. If you have a hands-free or Bluetooth device available, call a friend or family member to talk to while driving. If possible, keep a GPS with your destination programmed into it so you are reminded when to turn and what routes to follow. Often times these devices can forewarn traffic disturbances, closed roads, and offer alternative routes. It may be more beneficial at night to take a route where the roads are more illuminated rather than dark back roads.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep! The most important thing you can do is not start a long trip on little to no sleep. Make sure you are well rested before beginning your journey.