What to Do if You’re Too Tired to Drive
If you’re too tired to drive, the best solution is to get some sleep; however, that may be easier said than done. If it’s possible, we suggest finding a place where you can sleep in a bed for a few hours before hitting the road —this could be at a hotel, or a family member or friend’s house. However, not everybody has a family member or friend close-by or wants to spend the money on a hotel room. When that’s the case, it’s best to find a safe spot to get some sleep roadside.
We recommend finding a rest stop where you can pull fully off of the road, park, stretch your legs, and get some rest. If you’re not on an interstate or highway, find a spot to park that allows overnight or extended parking and avoid parking close to store entrances. Never sleep pulled over on the side of a road, whether you’re on a busy road or not. Doing so is dangerous and puts you at risk of receiving a traffic ticket.
If you’re sleeping roadside, make sure to take the key out of the ignition of your car and park in a well-lit spot. While parking under a light pole may seem counterintuitive for sleep, it’s safer than parking in a dimly-lit area. Lastly, make sure a window or sunroof is cracked to allow air to circulate through the vehicle.
We suggest frequent travelers always keep a travel pillow and blanket in their car to use in these types of situations. That way, it’s not something you need to remember before each trip, and you’ll be able to sleep a bit more comfortably.
Another alternative to getting a few more hours of sleep is to take a caffeine nap. Before we dive into caffeine naps, we should mention that these are only recommended for those who feel only a little drowsy and need a bit of sleep. If you’re struggling to keep your eyes open or head up, please do not attempt to take a caffeine nap and get back out on the road.
A “caffeine nap” is when you drink a coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) and then take a 20-30-minute nap. This strategic nap is supposed to help you harness the benefits of both caffeine and a quick snooze.
Now, it might seem weird to drink a cup of coffee and immediately sleep after; however, caffeine takes about 20 to 30 minutes to take effect. And, research has shown the most refreshing naps are either 20-30 minutes or over 90 minutes long. That means, if you were to drink a cup of coffee, sleep, and wake up 30 minutes later, you’d be waking upright when the caffeine kicks in. Doing this allows you to feel refreshed from the nap and energized from caffeine.
If you’re too tired to drive, don’t push it. Though you may feel like you can make it through the last leg of the trip to your warm, comfortable bed, the fact is, a lack of sleep impairs you more than you might realize. After only 16 hours without sleep, your coordination, reaction time, and judgment are diminished —three things you need to drive. You’re always better to pull off to a safe spot and reenergize. Whether you’re laying down for a full night’s rest or merely squeezing in a 20-minute caffeine nap, follow our tips above to get safe sleep before getting back out on the road.
We want you to be at your best no matter the conditions learn more about road safety at The Driving Institute.
BY MEG RILEY