Road trips can be a lot of fun. However, they can also be exhausting. It’s not uncommon to fall asleep at some point during the journey, but why is that? What is it about car rides that make people so tired, and how does someone fight through their fatigue?
Several factors influence car tiredness
Getting tired in a car can be good or bad, depending on where you’re seated. If you’re just a backseat passenger, it probably doesn’t matter if you close your eyes for half an hour or so. If you’re behind the wheel, though, you need to be alert at all times. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to do that. Traveling late at night or on a lack of sleep can make it hard to keep your eyes open. Moreover, being worn out from an earlier activity can also make it tough to stay awake. There’s even a possibility that the vibrations of your car might relax you and impact your alertness level. However, while these might all be contributing factors, one reason stands out from the rest as to why car rides can make a person so tired.
“Highway hypnosis” is the main issue
Sleep.org has their own explanation for why tiredness is common in a car, and they refer to it as “highway hypnosis.” According to this, when someone’s on a monotonous stretch of road for a long time, it can make them lose focus and therefore become drowsy. For instance, if a driver spends half an hour on a highway without needing to turn off, they’re more likely to go on auto-pilot. The lack of challenge can apparently put people into trance-like states, leading them to forget the road they’ve just traversed. The longer this goes on, the more at risk they are of becoming too tired to drive.
How to avoid falling asleep at the wheel
With “highway hypnosis” posing a very real danger, it’s important to establish ways to combat it. That way, you don’t become one of the roughly 6,000 people that the Center for Disease Control says crash because of drowsiness or inattentiveness. Always having a passenger with you on longer trips is ideal because it means you can switch places when you start to get tired. You just need to make sure that whoever you’re traveling with has a valid driver’s license. For those who enjoy coffee, a regular dose of caffeine can also help to keep you alert when your mind starts wondering. If neither of those options is available to you, then just make sure to take regular breaks. Stretching your legs, getting some fresh air, or even having a nap can help you get to your destination safely.
Falling asleep at the wheel is probably the last thing you want to do while you’re driving. Even if your journey isn’t that long, if you’re feeling drowsy, take the necessary precautions to ensure you don’t encounter danger during your trip. No destination is worth risking your life by driving when you can’t keep your eyes open.