When we think of sleep, we think of a nice comfy bed, fluffy pillows, and soft sheets. Sometimes, however, sleep eludes us. But we have so much to do! We have to get to work, or school, or to accomplish the myriad of other things that we have on our plates that day. So no matter how tired we might be, we get in our car and we go, go, go. Is this a safe thing to do?
Would you believe that in 2017 at least 795 deaths were attributed to drowsy driving? This number is most likely much higher as not all drowsy driving-related accidents can be determined after the fact. Unlike alcohol, which can be measured in one’s bloodstream, it’s difficult to look at the deceased and hypothesize that being drowsy was the culprit.
The first way to combat driving while drowsy is to realize when you are too tired to get behind the wheel. You know that phrase, “Knowledge is power.” In this case, it is exceptionally true. If you know you are too drowsy to get behind the wheel, you need to give yourself a rest before getting in the car, thus not putting yourself or others in danger. There are a few other tips to prevent driving drowsy:
- Mind your medicine - Many prescriptions and over-the-counter medications have a side effect of causing drowsiness. Never take one of these medicines before driving.
- Avoid alcohol - You already know the perils of drunk driving. Even if you are not legally drunk you should realize that small amounts of alcohol can cause a sedative effect, so you should avoid drinking if you are going to be driving.
- Spot the signs - Being aware of the signs of drowsy driving can help you to avoid it. If you are behind the wheel and you find yourself unable to stay in your lane, or you have the nagging urge to nod off, pull over immediately! You are the best tool to avoid an accident.
- Savor your sleep - Make sure to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Additionally, make sure the sleep you get is restorative. Just laying in bed for hours on end without sleeping is not good enough to get you through your day.
Remember, you are the best person to stop yourself from getting on the road when you shouldn’t be driving. No matter how important your class, meeting, or job is, your life - and the lives of everyone around you - depends on your being responsible and not driving while drowsy.