What’s the Best Way to Stay Awake When You’re Driving?

The Short Answer from a sleep medicine expert

What's the Best Way to Stay Awake When Driving? Short Answer

Q: What’s the best way to stay awake when you’re driving?

A: Some of the most common tactics people rely on to stay awake behind the wheel include talking on the phone, blasting the radio, eating candy, rolling down the windows, and even slapping or pinching yourself.  

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But if you’re drowsy, none of these techniques will make you more alert.  More than a century of sleep deprivation research shows that humans can’t recognize severe sleepiness adequately under sleep-deprived conditions.

Better solutions include drinking a cup of coffee, taking a 20-minute nap, or doing a 20-minute workout before you hit the road. These techniques have been shown to enhance wakefulness.

Sleep medicine specialist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS