Tips for staying awake behind the wheel during the alarm state

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The The exceptional situation of alarm and confinement that we are experiencing these weeks due to the Covid-19, is affecting the majority of the population in different ways, generating above all fear, worry, anguish or decline, due to social and economic uncertainty. These emotions are mainly manifested with stress, anxiety, increase or loss of appetite and even with major sleep disorders, as well as prolonged fatigue during the day.

These negative effects of sleep and fatigue can be really dangerous while driving, affecting those people who must go to their job in a private vehicle, who need to drive to carry out their work activity such as transporting goods or people, or even people who must take the vehicle to purchase first-class products need.

Between 20 and 30% of accidents are related to sleep and fatigue, which means that in this state of alarm, in which many people recognize that they have trouble sleeping, and some workers, such as transporters, have working hours. very long work, it is even more dangerous to drive if you have not rested properly, increasing the probability of having a traffic accident.

Many people recognize that during these weeks they do not sleep well. The decrease in physical activity, tensions and worries, not following a routine or hours of rest, influence so that our sleep is not of quality. And surely you will have noticed that when you do not sleep well you feel much more irritated, fatigued, discouraged, it is difficult for you to concentrate, think clearly and make appropriate decisions. Restful sleep is vital so that the next day you can carry out your daily activities normally and safely, especially in those tasks that involve risk, such as driving.

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The signs described below are an indicator that the negative effects of sleep and fatigue are manifested in driving. Detecting them will allow us to react on time and avoid fatal consequences:

-Weight on the eyelids.

-Itchy or tired eyes.

-Appearance of blurred or double vision.

-Tendency to settle in the seat.

-Postural adjustments.

-The head falls off.

-Continuous yawns.

-Difficulty concentrating or staying alert.

If you spot these signs behind the wheel, stop the vehicle in a safe place and rest for about 20 minutes, either stretching the legs or taking a short nap. Be very careful with stimulating drinks, since, although they initially activate us, their stimulating effect is short-term, so that sleep and fatigue can reappear after about 20 minutes.

Before we get behind the wheel, we must be aware of whether we are really rested enough and in optimal conditions to move effectively and safely. In case of detecting any small symptom of tiredness, and even so, it is essential to make the trip, we must risk as little as possible, be as attentive as possible, and make stops more frequently.

Follow the guidelines

The best way to combat sleep while driving is to be well rested and to have adequate «sleep hygiene», that is, to follow some guidelines and behaviors to have a quality restful sleep. The following tips can help you improve sleep quality, especially if you must drive:

• Do not drink stimulant drinks 6 hours before sleeping. If you are one of those who thinks that caffeine does not affect you at night, now it is better to avoid it since the current situation of tension and uncertainty may increase its effects. It is preferable that the body relax and have a more restful sleep.

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• Do not fragment the dream. Maintain a fixed rest schedule of at least 6 hours in a row (recommended between 7 and 8), so that the next day you are not looking for the moment to take a nap.

• The nap helps to rest, but should not exceed half an hour. To avoid that at night we cannot fall asleep, which is when we really have to sleep.

• Do not eat heavy meals before sleeping. The lighter the dinner, the better, to make our digestive system work as little as possible during the night.

• The bed is only for sleeping. It is not recommended to watch TV, use the computer or electronic devices in bed since it can reveal us. Our mind must relate the bed with rest.

• Before going to bed it is advisable to take a shower, to relax the body and promote sleep. If you do it constantly, your mind will relate the shower with subsequent rest.

• Watching TV before bedtime makes sleep difficult. Above all, if you are watching a program or movie that hooks us or creates tension and intrigue.

• Do not subject yourself to excessive information about the current situation, especially before sleeping.

• Try not to sleep more hours than normal on weekends, or on rest days. Try to keep a similar schedule every day of the week, to avoid that when we return to the workday it costs us more to get up.

• Avoid drinking alcohol shortly before bed. Alcohol is a psychodepressant of the nervous system, which at the beginning of its effects activates us making it difficult to fall asleep.

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Remember, consider your rest as a vital driving safety measure.

You can also follow a series of tips to avoid fatigue affecting your driving:

• Do not take heavy food before driving, since fatigue increases due to the extra effort that our digestive system must make.

• Walk for a few minutes before starting a long trip. It helps to clear us and prepare us to drive.

• Eat foods rich in iron. Sometimes fatigue can be increased by the lack of nutrients in our body, including iron.

• Drink plenty of fluids, especially in summer. Fatigue may be due to dehydration, so drink a glass of water every two hours.

• If you drive at night, go rested. Following the sleep guidelines indicated above.

• Stop every 2 hours or every 200 km. It is essential to change tasks, and then resume our level of activation in driving.

• Be careful with the stimulants used against fatigue since they do not eliminate it, but mask it (coffee, tea, energy drinks, stimulate in the short term, but later fatigue can reappear).

• The effects of fatigue are especially dangerous in the last hour of driving. It is when we are most tired, and many times we overestimate our ability to continue driving, driven by the desire to reach the destination.

• Avoid bad postures behind the wheel, and do not wear clothing that is too tight or too tight that hinders blood circulation. On long trips it is advisable to wear light and comfortable clothing.

• Try not to turn your head about catastrophic thoughts, (this situation will not be forever), try to think of positive things.

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