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.
So what are the evidence – based techniques that can help you keep sleep at bay while driving? Instead of snacking, experts recommend that you fuel up on caffeine while driving. Caffeine can be a great stimulant, provided you have it without sugar. Taking small breaks while driving, especially on a long journey, can also reduce your risk of dozing off while driving. A 20-minute nap break on a long trip can do much to refresh your senses. However, take care to park somewhere safe while you catch a quick nap.
It is also much harder to prevent dozing off once fatigue has already set in. It is better to make sure that your senses are fully refreshed before you begin driving. If you can, indulge in a 20 – minute exercise routine to make sure that your brain is awake and fresh. Exercise can also lower stress, which, in turn, helps you stay awake.
Invest in auto technology that can help alert you when you are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel. Lane departure warning systems and other types of technologies can help alert you when you are in danger of veering away from your lane due to drowsiness. Sometimes, sleepiness is the result of medications that you are on. It is important to understand the effect of medications before you begin driving, and make changes to these, if necessary, after consulting your doctor.
The Atlanta car crash attorneys at Katz Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to the representation of persons injured in car accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in a car accident, talk to a lawyer at our firm and determine if you have legal options to a claim for damages. You may be eligible for compensation that includes medical expenses, lost income and other types of damages. Talk to an attorney at our firm and discuss your case.