Do you have a long haul ahead of you? While nothing can replace a good night’s sleep, that alone sometimes isn’t enough to get you through an especially long trip. These 10 tips can help you stay alert, energized, and awake while you’re driving.
1. Avoid High Contrast. Exposure to sudden bright lights can fatigue your eyes and make it harder to stay awake. When driving at night, taking steps to avoid bright lights while sitting in a dark cab can prevent this tiring discomfort. Try keeping dim light on in your cab, turning the brightness of your gauge lights down, and avoiding looking directly into the headlights of other cars and trucks.
2. Keep it Cool. While a nice and warm cab can be comfortable, too much comfort can lead to drowsiness. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, you can make yourself more alert by lowering the temperature to just a bit below ideal levels, or by opening the window and letting the breeze cool you off.
3. Feed your Mind. Listen to something interesting. If you like talk radio, turn on the radio and switch it to your favorite station. If that bores you more than it entertains you, play some podcasts or audiobooks. Spoken entertainment about a topic that you’re interested in can do more to keep you awake than music, so opt for those if you can.
4. Get Caffeinated. A cup of coffee at the right time can give you a much-needed boost when staying awake on the road. If you’re not a coffee lover, you can substitute it with a caffeinated tea.
5. …but not too Caffeinated. As nice as five cups of coffee and a bunch of energy drinks make you feel in the moment, relying on that much caffeine can make you crash hard, putting you in a dangerous situation. Try to stick to one cup if possible, and never go above four cups in one day.
6. Eat Healthy. It may be convenient (and tempting) to fill your belly with the sugary, fatty offerings at rest stops, but eating healthier food will leave you with more energy than junk food. Pack a balanced meal or two with you, and aim to eat as little rest stop food as possible.
7. Stay Hydrated. Experts recommend that everyone should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, so drinking plenty of water will help you in the long run. Keep several reusable water bottles with you and refill them when you stop. The bathroom breaks are worth it.
8. Snack, don’t Stuff. Eating big meals can leave you feeling bloated and lethargic, which don’t help your energy levels on the road. It’s better to eat small snacks throughout the day while you’re driving between smaller meals. Make sure that your snack of choice isn’t unhealthy junk food. Things like nuts and sunflower seeds are great to snack on while you drive.
9. Get up and Move. Getting out of your truck and taking some time to exercise can reinvigorate you after spending hours sitting. Pull over and take five minutes to stretch your legs and walk around. If you feel like you are wasting time, you can even take the opportunity to examine your truck and make sure everything is in order.
10. Take a Nap. Sometimes, your body just needs sleep and no tricks can get around it, but that don’t mean you have to stop for hours at a time. A 20 minute nap can help restore wakefulness with minimal grogginess immediately after. You may feel a bit groggy immediately after waking, so take some time to wake yourself up fully before getting back on the road.