8 Tricks You Need to Stay Awake During Long Drives

Worried about drifting off behind the wheel? These long driving tips can help.

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Make frequent stops
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Make frequent stops

Every two hours or so, give yourself a break by pulling into a rest stop to stretch your legs. Even if you don’t have time to shut your eyes while you’re stopped, the change of pace will lift your spirits and keep you more alert once you set off again.

Grumbling about the price of fuel? Here’s how to get better gas mileage on your long drive.

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Make it a buddy trip
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Make it a buddy trip

Invite a friend on a road trip to keep you company. Chatting will help you stay alert, and you can switch drivers every couple of hours, giving you a chance to shut your eyes during the long drive.

Yearning to hit the open road and explore the best the Great White North has to offer? Here are 10 Canadian road trips everyone should take at least once.

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Have a coffee break
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Have a coffee break

Perk up by dropping into a gas station for a cup of coffee. A study in the British medical journal BMJ found that truck drivers who had caffeinated products like tea, coffee, or energy drinks had a 63 per cent reduced chance of crashing than those who didn’t have caffeine. An unexpected bonus? Drinking this much coffee a day can help burn fat!

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Man sleeping in his car
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Stop trying to fight it

If you really can’t kick the urge to fall asleep, pull over and take a quick, 15-minute nap. Longer than 20 minutes and you could end up feeling groggy afterward instead of refreshed. The time you’ll save by staying safe is worth way more than the delay time on your journey.

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Driving at night
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Don’t drive after midnight

Your biological clock craves sleep the most between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m., so you’ll be sleepier than ever if you’re behind the wheel in those hours. Try to reach a stopping point earlier in the night, and let yourself get a full night’s rest before heading off.

Do you struggle with insomnia? Try adopting these daily habits for a better night’s sleep.

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Healthy granola bars
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Nosh on a healthy snack

A chocolate bar might give you a quick energy boost, but you could end up crashing fast. Opt for a healthy, protein-rich snack like a handful of almonds to rejuvenate you without the spike.

Still feeling sleepy? Check out five more tips for staying awake.

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Car keys next to glass of beer
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Avoid alcohol

Don’t drink before climbing behind the wheel, even if you stick below the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. Even small amounts of alcohol can leave you feeling sleepy.

Psst—these are the types of people who are most likely to be distracted drivers.

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Car window open while driving
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Open a window

Roll down the windows to give your body a jolt of cold air, shocking you into feeling more alert. Just keep in mind that your body will get used to it, so you should only use it as a quick fix before you can pull over. These mental tricks will make the drive go faster.

[Sources: sleepfoundation.org, bmj.com, shape.com, thetruckersreport.com]

Check out more driving tips that could save your life (and some money, too).

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest