Have you ever looked down at your speedometer and wondered where the last 100 miles went? Well, you are not alone. Highway hypnosis, or white line fever, is a common problem for people across the world. This is especially true for long-distance drivers. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 25 adult drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel in the last month. Luckily, there are many ways that you can avoid highway hypnosis by combatting fatigue and staying alert.
What is Highway Hypnosis?
Highway hypnosis is a trance-like mental state in which a person can drive a vehicle normally for long distances without any recollection of doing so. It is an example of automaticity, or the ability to perform actions without conscious thought. Though some people dispute how dangerous driving on ‘auto-pilot’ can be, most experts agree that it results in slower reaction and preventable accidents.
12 Tips for Avoiding Highway Hypnosis and Staying Focused
Concentrating on your driving is essential when it comes to preventing highway hypnosis. Here are twelve tips to help you stay alert during a long haul.
Not only is water a better alternative to sugary drinks, but it has many other health benefits too. Drinking water regularly can help increase your brain functioning and energy levels, improve your heart health, prevent headaches, and even better your complexion. The cool temperature of water also lowers your body temperature, which keeps you alert and lessens your risk of getting highway hypnosis.
Moderate your caffeine
Being told to drink less coffee in your line of work may sound crazy but hear me out. As great as the boost from coffee is, it’s very short-lived. Coffee is also a diuretic, so it will make you have to go to the bathroom even more frequently than drinking water will. To avoid this, limit your intake of coffee and switch to some healthier alternatives.
Eat healthy snacks
We all have to deal with the mountain of junk food staring back at us at every gas station, but it’s important to resist the urge to buy 10 bags of Cheetos every time you stop. While fast foods and snacks are easy, they contain large amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. These ingredients will tire you out quickly, so try switching to healthier foods that will give you energy for hours at a time.
As simple as it sounds, chewing gum is a great way to keep your mind alert during long drives. One way to ensure you don’t get highway hypnosis is to grab a few different flavors and switch between them every time you feel yourself losing focus. Be sure to stick to sugar-free gum to prevent cavities though!
Use eye drops
Your eyes are incredibly important, so don’t forget to blink every now and again! Make sure to keep a bottle of eye drops in your rig to prevent your eyes from drying out. If you wear contacts, remember to bring an extra pair and some solution in case you need to change them throughout your trip.
Open the windows or use the AC
The toastier your cab is, the more likely it is to lull you into a trance. To avoid this, crack your windows on a cold day or blast the air conditioning during the summer. The sudden rush of cold air will shock your senses and prevent you from getting highway hypnosis or falling asleep at the wheel.
Fix your posture
Truck driving can be very taxing on your body, so try your best to correct your posture before you develop any bad habits. Reclining or hunching forward will cause your eyes to get heavy, and you’ll want nothing more than to relax. So, remember to sit upright with your back supported; this will maximize your blood flow and help you stay alert.
Crank up the music
This may seem like a given, but we have a few guidelines when it comes to this strategy. While you may be a closeted Chopin enthusiast, be sure to keep your collection out of the cab and stick to something more upbeat. Don’t be afraid to practice your karaoke skills either, as this will keep your mind engaged with what’s going on. If you’re really having trouble staying alert, try putting on a song that you hate. As crazy as this sounds, the irritation that comes from listening to crappy music may keep your mind from wandering.
Download an audiobook or standup routine
If music isn’t cutting it, try downloading an audiobook or a standup routine. It’s a great way to keep your mind engaged without taking your eyes off the road. Plus, you’ll be using your time to learn something new or at least have a good laugh.
These oils don’t just smell nice, they can actually help to stimulate your brain’s nervous system when you use them correctly. Grapefruit, cedarwood, peppermint, and rosemary are just a few suggestions that will help prevent highway hypnosis while making your cab smell great!
If you feel yourself zoning out or getting drowsy, start to read everything you see on the road out loud. This includes road signs, license plates, bumper stickers – you name it. I know this sounds silly, but it actually makes you more aware of your surroundings so you’re not simply staring ahead. While this strategy can be very helpful, don’t let it distract you from what you’re doing. Keep your eyes on what’s near the road and not anything too far off in the distance.
While these tips are all great temporary fixes, none of them are quite as important as letting your body and your mind rest. Before you set out every morning, be sure to get enough sleep the night before. This means at least six hours but try to shoot for eight! Throughout the day, take advantage of truck stops and gas stations if you start to feel spacey. Even something as simple as taking a walk or a quick nap can do wonders. Hard work is important but giving yourself time to recuperate is even more so. Never pass up on self-care!
Whether you’re on an assignment or looking for a new job, follow these tips for highway hypnosis prevention. If we missed any, don’t forget to let us know in the comments. Have a safe trip!