Falling asleep behind the wheel is much more common than we think, and it is probably for this reason that most people have plenty of suggestions to offer to prevent car accidents caused by sleepiness. However, many of these techniques simply do not work, and in some cases, may actually make the sleepiness worse and increase your risk of being involved in a car accident.
The Cleveland Clinic has, for decades, studied sleep deprivation and its special effects on a person’s ability to drive safely. Sleep experts at the Cleveland Clinic say that there are several myths and misconceptions when it comes to staying awake while driving. Most motorists believe that snacking while driving, rolling down the car window and slapping or punching yourself can keep sleep at bay. Not only do these techniques not work effectively, but they can also actually increase sleepiness, thereby exacerbating your risk of being involved in a car accident.
Take snacking, for instance. If you are snacking on chips or other high carb foods while driving and you have already started feeling sleepy, the snacking is only going to make the drowsiness worse. Once these foods metabolize and are eliminated from your bloodstream, you are immediately going to feel even more sleepy. Slapping and pinching yourself while driving only causes you physical pain, and does little to stimulate the part of the brain that needs to wake up in order for you to feel alert and fresh.