Ways to reduce falling asleep when distance driving.
A microsleep is a brief period of sleep that can occur without the person realising it. They occur during periods of drowsiness and while doing your daily tasks, including driving. Driving on the motorway can be a long and monotonous task and the likelihood of microsleep increases as a result. If your microsleep lasts for three seconds while travelling at 60mph, you can go 300 feet in the wrong direction before you regain control. How can you prevent it?
The main cause of microsleep is sleep deprivation, so the first thing you must do before you drive is make sure you regularly get a good night’s sleep. Even having one night of disturbed sleep can increase the chances of having a microsleep. For most adults, between seven and eight hours of sleep per night is recommended. Alcohol and certain types of medication can also increase the likelihood of microsleep. In the case of the latter, consult your doctor if you are unsure.
If you feel your eyelids droop while you are behind the wheel, the most important step to take is to pull over as soon as you reach a layby, a service station or another appropriate place. Tests have shown that those who don’t immediately stop are around fifteen times more likely to crash. Don’t push your body beyond its limits.
Even mild tiredness at the wheel can have serious consequences. You should also try to avoid driving for long periods of time between midnight and six in the morning since this is the time when you will feel most sleepy. It is possible to use caffeine as a stimulant, however this isn’t a permanent fix and repeated consumption will reduce its effects.
If it’s possible, have someone in the car with you during long journeys and exchange places if you start feeling tired. Before you set off, plan your journey beforehand and be sure to incorporate several rest breaks during your travels.
You must be responsible as a driver and that includes taking responsibility for your own care to minimise the risk of microsleep while behind the wheel.
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