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Staying awake while driving, wtf.

Caramel GenocideCaramel Genocide Registered User
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a thing for not wanting to stay awake while I'm driving.

Specifically highway driving, for stretches longer than half an hour. I don't have to do it very frequently, however when I do need to highway drive, it kicks my ass. I'm talking about near narcolepsy type crap here.

The only thing that I have found so far that keeps me awake is eating. And it has to be near constantly. In the interest of not becoming as large as my vehicle, I've been munching on in-shell plain sunflower seeds. I am looking for some other method of staying awake.

Things that have failed so far:
- taking rest/stretch/air breaks
- keeping vehicle cool/cracking windows for constant cool air flow
- chewing gum (not sure why that doesn't work when eating does)
- playing loud music
- caffeine
- being well rested

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Posts

  • ObsidianiObsidiani __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2010
    Get a more exciting vehicle? A manual transmission.

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  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Get a handsfree and talk to someone while you're driving

    Hell get a language tape and repeat along with it. Talking and paying attention will keep you sharp.

  • soxboxsoxbox Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Get some music that makes you want to sing along - not necessarily loud music, but music that you know the words to and are willing to sing at the top of your lungs.

    You need to find things that keep you actively engaged in the world around you. You can put on music because your brain can put it into the background regardless of volume. You can chew gum because it's just chew, chew, chew, (not acquire food, open mouth, insert food, chew, swallow).

  • EskimoDaveEskimoDave Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I'm so the same.

    music only works for a song or two.

  • CorvusCorvus Caw? VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    O_o That sounds strange as hell. Almost like car sickness but instead of nausea it makes you sleepy. Could be worth checking out with a doc.

    Unless you are already chronically sleep deprived, a half hour of highway driving should not make you want to nod off. Does this happen to you in any other circumstances?

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Sounds like road hypnosis. Where do you typically look while driving?

  • SunstrandSunstrand Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    A half hour is pretty short for the standard get out an walk around the vehicle trick, but every couple of hours it works wonders, so that leaves talk radio, audio books, and pretty much anything else that will keep your mind "in gear" while driving.

    When I drove a lot for work, like over 25k kilometers a month, I used to listen to Coast to Coast am and laugh at all the crazies just to stay awake. The talk radio thing works best if you are listening to something that gets your blood moving, during the day it was Dr. Laura, fuck did I hate that chick.

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  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Try to constantly keep your mind paying attention to whats going on around you... which you should be doing anyways since you are driving.

    I've done ridiculously long drives, like 17 hours in a day. What I usually did when getting drowsy was smoke a cig and have a coffee. Obviously bad advice if you don't smoke, not encouraging you to pick it up, but if you do it might help to have one. If that didn't work I would take a break from driving, stretch, get some fresh air.

    I dunno though, since you seem to have this problem after a really short period of time of driving, i think just mentally focusing on what you are doing should help. Always have a mental picture of what cars are around you.

  • dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    do you keep your windshield crystal clear?
    in my experience dirty windshields will bring out my eye fatigue within an hour of driving
    now i'm pretty anal about keeping it spotless

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  • November FifthNovember Fifth Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
  • MrOlettaMrOletta Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Maybe try an engaging audio book. That definitely keeps me awake on long (multi-day) trips.

  • DodgeBlanDodgeBlan Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I am exactly the same but late at night it only takes me around 20 minutes. The only real good answer is to get more sleep. You probably aren't getting enough sleep. Or coffee. Nowadays at night I never drive without it.

    Oh shit I just realized you that you said both those things don't work. Probably the only things that will work are phone conversations, eating or smoking.

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  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    If food helps, have you tried chewing gum?

    I mean I despise the stuff personally, but when it's something as serious as staying awake on the road I think it's worth the disgustingness of it.

  • SkyCaptainSkyCaptain Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Does this happen even in the middle of the day when yo're normally wide awake? If so... it's a serious problem you should get checked out.

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  • RebeccaRebecca Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Keep a little cooler filled with celery, carrot sticks, fresh fruit and the like to munch on. Nuts and seeds can quickly add a good deal of fat to your diet.

    But please have a doctor check you out, maybe an eye doctor for eye strain?

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Bring some snacks.

    If I know the road trip, and it's longer than an hour, I usually start dozing off myself. Munchies keep me awake.

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I have this problem so bad and highway driving is probably my favorite thing to do ever. I was working in another city for a 10 month term a few years ago and the commute was 150km in one direction.

    I even tend to get it while playing Forza 3 every once in awhile.

    The only thing that kept me alive on those days was pretty much a combination of everything you've said has failed :(

    I also kept an energy drink or two in my car at all times so I could crack one open whenever I started to feel it coming on.

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  • ShadowfireShadowfire Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Sing with your music, or listen to some good podcasts/talk radio. Something that engages you (or even riles you up).

    Also, echoing someone else, where are you looking while you drive? I find that if I stare straight ahead I start getting drowsy. As long as I'm looking in every direction, glancing all over the place, I do fine.

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  • blakfeldblakfeld Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Snacks, NPR (The oppisite effect on me then most people, hey-o) and singing along to the radio are my cures, but I'm right with you. I'm reeeeeal bad about dozing at the wheel.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    MrOletta wrote: »
    Maybe try an engaging audio book. That definitely keeps me awake on long (multi-day) trips.

    Any sort of talk keeps me awake better than music...I tend to listen, which means paying attention, which means being engaged. Music, particularly music I know well, leads to zoning, which leads to sleeping.

    Some people are the opposite, though, so YMMV.

    Also, if you're sure you're getting enough sleep (as in getting to bed early enough and sleeping long enough) but still tired while driving, you may think about checking with a doctor about sleep issues. Undiagnosed sleep apnea (one example of such an issue) isn't unheard of, and leads to a significant number of vehicle crashes each year.

  • exmelloexmello Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I have this problem too, but probably not as bad. What I usually do it turn on the A/C and move my eyes rapidly. Like crazy pervert eyes. Don't look at the same thing for more than 2 seconds and especially don't stare at the car in front of you.

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I listen to right-wing talk radio, and yell at it.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I listen to right-wing talk radio, and yell at it.

    This is the best thing.

  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited March 2010
    Try taking your shoes off!

  • EntriechEntriech Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Either listening to something that interests you that you have to pay attention to, like a good talk radio program, or listen to music you want to sing along to. I mean really sing.

    When I get drowsy I turn off the radio and belt out show tunes. And I find downloading and listening to say, an episode of This American Life keeps me far more alert than any old radio station.

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  • exmelloexmello Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    I listen to right-wing talk radio, and yell at it.

    I seriously used to do the same thing to wake up for school.

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  • desperaterobotsdesperaterobots Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Ricky Gervais Podcasts.

    All of them.

    (May laugh so much you drive into ditch though...)

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I just thought that possibly you could find something that makes you feel uncomfortable like wearing your watch too tight, or a necklace/chain that's a little bit constricting (obviously don't choke yourself or anything) so that your body will have a harder time making the "this feels like a safe spot, I could take a nap" connection.

    ... also, I taught myself to sing during my commutes, since I had enough time to listen to like 5 full albums per day.

    seriously, singing at the top of your lungs should make it near impossible to fall asleep.

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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    My friend who has the same problem chews on seeds too.
    He also drives with the window down a crack. Of course, that only works really well in the winter or summer, when the heat or AC is on. The change in temperature helps, I hear.
    Other than that, I don't know, really.

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  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Don't wear constricting things around your neck, it is suspected to promote blood clot formation.

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    once again why I stipulated not to choke yourself. . .

    edit: I was mostly talking about a choker necklace, or a bowtie or a pendant, or one of many different kinds of clothing/jewelery that people wear all the time.

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  • BackstopBackstop Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Cold water works better for many people than caffeine. Caffeine gives you that crash, water makes you have to pee after a while which forces you to stop and walk for a minute. Unless you can fall asleep while having to pee, I sure can't.

    Maybe you should get a nylabone or a chew toy rather than eating all the time.

  • Caramel GenocideCaramel Genocide Registered User
    edited March 2010
    A chew toy probably wouldn't work any better for me than gum does, I'd just feel like a bigger moron ;D

    Thanks for the input, everyone. I will have an arsenal to try out next time I need to go driving.


    To answer a few of the questions:
    I do keep my windshield clean.
    I live in what seems like the flattest and most boring part of the world. This could be a contributing factor! I do try to focus on the vehicles around me, however it doesn't seem to help.
    I suppose sleep apnea is a possiblity, I hadn't thought of that - I do feel well-rested, however it won't hurt to check it out.

  • LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Kind of drastic, but I gotta go with the first post: consider making your next car a manual. I really enjoy driving them specifically because it gives me something to do and think about while I drive.

  • Caramel GenocideCaramel Genocide Registered User
    edited March 2010
    Oh yeah - I do drive a manual. Automatics are bleh :S

  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Kind of drastic, but I gotta go with the first post: consider making your next car a manual. I really enjoy driving them specifically because it gives me something to do and think about while I drive.
    This doesn't really apply to highway driving, though.

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Backstop wrote: »
    Cold water works better for many people than caffeine. Caffeine gives you that crash, water makes you have to pee after a while which forces you to stop and walk for a minute. Unless you can fall asleep while having to pee, I sure can't.

    Maybe you should get a nylabone or a chew toy rather than eating all the time.

    caffeine makes you have to piss too. probably moreso than water since it is a diuretic.

  • DiscoZombieDiscoZombie Registered User
    edited March 2010
    This used to happen to me all the time, I don't know what stopped it to be honest... getting older maybe, or keeping a more regular schedule... not things you generally have control over =p just try to keep your mind working, thinking about stuff, be it what you're listening to, what you did that day, what you're going to do in the future, etc.

  • KreutzKreutz Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I had a hell of a time with this during my first year commuting to university. I solved it for a while by finding alternate routes and taking a different route every day, but once the additional commute time/gas mileage became an issue I started singing along with the radio (which caused more problems than it solved during my Opeth fixation).

    Just remember though, it's much better to lose 10 minutes pulling over and resting your eyes rather than unsuccessfully trying to stay awake and putting your car in the ditch. Speaking from experience here.

  • TIFunkaliciousTIFunkalicious Kicking back in NebraskaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I have this problem driving home from college. I also suffer from sleep apnea, and there are some days I feel pretty well rested, but how tired I REALLY am expresses itself when I do something monotonous like driving. The best cure is driving with a friend and conversing, but that's not always reasonable. Water helps quite a bit.

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