Avoiding Drowsy Driving: Tips On How To Rest More

These days, texting while driving has distinguished itself as public enemy No. 1 among transportation bureaus, and with good reason, but the number of accidents resulting from drowsy driving is raising eyebrows as well. Accident data has revealed that drowsy driving is attributable to the approximately 100,000 traffic accidents that occur on average each year. And though many may not consider a drowsy driver as culpable in an accident as a drunk driver or a driver using his or her cell phone, drowsy drivers can be held criminally responsible for the mishaps they cause. Though this is rarely the case, public admonitions have been cast like a fishing net over the country.

Recognizing that drowsy driving results mostly from inadequate sleep, rather than behavior such as drunk driving or driving while using a cell phone, officials are encouraging drivers to consciously monitor and improve their sleep patterns and practices. This is because the only way to prevent drowsy driving is to get a good night's rest. There are a number of measures one can take to improve his or her sleep habits and, in turn, help decrease the number of drowsy driving-related accidents. If you're wondering how to improve your daily night's sleep, read on for our helpful hints.

1. Don't drink anything stimulating after 2p.m.

Because everybody is different, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you find that you can't fall asleep by midnight after you drank a cup of coffee at 2 p.m., then you should probably refrain from drinking caffeine after noon. If you can drink a cup of coffee and fall asleep shortly thereafter, then you are probably not as sensitive. However, the caffeine may still adversely affect how you sleep: you may not sleep as deeply or you may wake up intermittently, which can result in you waking up drowsy.

2. Eat a small meal with a moderate amount of healthy protein and carbohydrates.

Eating a large meal, even three to four hours before you go to sleep will continue to digest after you go to bed. Your body temperature rises about two degrees when you are digesting, and a heightened body temperature can cause you to not sleep well.

3. Do not drink alcohol less than four hours before going to sleep.

Drinking alcohol can make you sleepy, but it can also cause you to wake up intermittently throughout the night. Also, because alcohol dehydrates you, it can hinder the restorative process your body goes through while you're asleep, which will cause you to wake up drowsy.

4. Take a bath closer to the time you get home rather than right before you go to sleep.

As previously mentioned (see No. 2), a higher body temperature can adversely affect how you sleep (you may not sink into deep sleep as soon as someone with a normal body temperature), and taking a bath shortly before bedtime will only raise your body temperature. Instead of right before bed, take a bath earlier, perhaps shortly after you get home from work.

5. Participate in moderate stretching or light yoga shortly before you go to bed.

Heavy exercise is widely believed to impede your ability to get to sleep, but light stretching or yoga can help to relax your breathing, reduce tension and help calm you, prepping you for a good night's rest.

6. Dim the bright lights in your home as bedtime approaches.

Bright lights can make your body think it is daytime, so if you keep bright lights on late into the evening, they may be hindering your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. Instead, consider lighting your house in the evening with a few lamps. With less light, your body is more inclined to relax and fall asleep easier.

7. Stop using communication devices such as instant messaging, social media, and phones at least an hour before bed.

Using communication devices can stimulate senses and heighten awareness, which makes falling asleep more difficult. You should disengage yourself from these devices at least one hour before you prepare for bed. In addition, before you go to bed, you should place your mobile device out of reach so you are not tempted to use it after you get into bed.

By following these tips, you can prevent yourself from driving drowsily the next morning. Though you may wake up by taking a refreshing shower or drinking a cup of coffee, the fatigue caused by tiredness will likely revisit you. This is simply because you didn't sleep the recommended seven to eight hours; hence transportation officials' focus on educating the public on the importance of getting enough sleep. The majority of U.S. inhabitants report that they do not sleep for the recommended period of time, seven to eight hours. By encouraging practices that can help you get enough sleep, it is their hope that drowsy driving-related accidents will essentially decline.