Importance of sleep for drivers
Importance of sleep for drivers
As a driver, you have a duty to do everything you can to keep yourself, and others, safe on the road. Phil Lawlor, Sleep Expert at Dormeo, shares his advice on the importance of sleep for drivers before heading out in your car.
Our health, habits, and shift patterns can all contribute to how sleepy we feel when we drive. Furthermore, the monotony of motorways doesn’t exactly help us stay awake. Falling asleep at the wheel can lead to fines or prosecution as a result of dangerous driving. As a consequence, you could even cause a serious accident. So, it’s important to be well-rested on the road. Below, I’ll explain why we should take steps to reduce the amount of driving we do when we’re tired. Also, I’ll share my tips for getting enough rest.
Drowsy driving: consequences and signs
Tiredness affects your alertness, which means you’ll react slower and be less likely to notice potential dangers. You may also become less accurate in your driving, taking corners badly and making it difficult for other road-users to predict your movements.
Until it happens to you, it may seem unfathomable that you can fall asleep while driving. However, up to one fifth of motorway accidents are caused by falling asleep at the wheel (gov.uk), so the risk is very real. Passing out while in control of your car can cause it to veer, drift lanes, or collide with other vehicles, and the consequences of these actions at high speeds are devastating and often fatal.
Listen to your body: it’s usually trying to tell you if you aren’t fit to drive. Ignoring seemingly small things, like yawning a lot and being unable to remember the last few miles of driving, can easily lead to your eyes closing, or ‘fluttering’. Consequently, even a few seconds of nodding off is enough to cause an accident. If you’re managing to stay awake but find yourself drifting lanes, ending up too close to nearby cars, or missing road signs or turns, it’s time to pull into a service station. Take a 10 minute break to replenish.
Driving while tired our tips
Ideally, you shouldn’t drive at all unless you’ve had a full eight hours of sleep and have woken up feeling fresh and alert. Going to bed at the same time every night can help you sleep better. Although, that isn’t an option for a lot of us, so try to take steps to prepare your body for sleep instead.
Limiting screen time, having a warm bath, and doing some light stretches before bed can be enough to get yourself ready to drift off. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and tidy. Invest in a decent mattress to make sure you’re getting the most out of your bedtime. Proper support from your bed can even help you to sleep undisturbed for longer, which is especially beneficial for restless sleepers.
Even with a good few hours sleep under your belt, it’s best to avoid driving late at night and try not to drive alone if you can. This is especially on long trips. Having a passenger that can drive is a bonus as they can take over for a bit if you start to feel drowsy or need a break. If you are alone take steps to aid you staying alert. You could open a window to get some fresh air into the car. Don’t drive for longer than 2 hours at a time. take short breaks on long journeys too.
You can use coffee or other sources of caffeine in the short-term. Remember, don’t be afraid to pull over at a rest stop and take a nap if you need to. Taking a short nap after consuming caffeine can make you even more alert when you wake up. So, try to get some shut-eye after a cup of coffee if you can.
By following this advice, you can limit the effects of tiredness on your driving and stay safe on the road.