How To Stay Energized on Long-Haul Drives
In Malaysia, driving long-haul is not uncommon. Though the frequency of long-haul drives might differ between people, most of us do it at one point or another in the year. Some do it for work, driving trucks and tankers up and down the peninsula on the highway for many hours on-end, while others might do it for leisure, travel, or even to return to our kampung during festive seasons.
The person tasked with being the driver of the vehicle on these long trips has a heavy burden on their shoulders, including the challenge of staying awake and energized on those long trips.
Common suggestions to fight against fatigue, sleepiness, or overall tiredness is to get enough sleep before a long drive and also to consume large amounts of coffee. While these suggestions are valid, here are a few more things to consider before you or anyone you know goes on another long-haul drive:
Take a nap!
Never underestimate the value of a nap.
Yes, it’s true that getting plenty of sleep prior to a long-distance drive helps ensure that you stay alert and are able to drive safely. However, during your long-distance trip over many hours, it is also incredibly useful to take what they call “power naps”; a nap that is short enough to make you feel energized, lasting around 10-15 minutes.
Sometimes, even though you may have had enough sleep the night before, driving down a straight highway for many hours still has the ability to make your body feel tired and sleepy. This is because of the stimuli your senses are being exposed to; the same sounds, the same sights, repeatedly for hours and hours can make anyone’s mind tired and potentially lead to unsafe driving.
There are plenty of rest stops on the side of the highway, so if you are feeling a little tired, park your car and take a powernap. If you’re with other people in the car, perhaps one of them can take over for awhile as you rest in the passenger seat.
When you do stop your car, truck or motorcycle at the R&R stop on the side of the highway, be sure to take a few minutes and stretch your body out. Regardless of the type of vehicle you are using, the fact is that on long drives your body remains in a fixed position for so long which tightens your muscles and restricts your blood flow. Stretching and taking brief walks around the rest area helps your blood flow which brings oxygen to all parts of your body and wakes you back up!
Staying well-fed is important, but this does not mean that you should snack on chocolate bars or candy during your drives. A sugar rush may keep you energized for awhile, but it also has the unpleasant side effect of the sugar crash; that is when your blood sugar drops and you suddenly feel tired.
Eating before long-haul trips means eating things like vegetables and fruits; items that will keep your body feeling fresh and hydrated but most importantly alert for the road trip you’re embarking on.
Take your vitamins!
Fruits and vegetables are great because of the vitamins and minerals they provide, but you can also add to it by taking in multivitamins of your own. Some vitamins, such as the many B vitamins, are crucial for the body’s metabolism and helps it produce energy. Consuming these vitamins either in the form of pills or the fruits and vegetables will help ensure that your body has all it needs to function optimally.
Hydrate, don’t caffeinate!
Finally, let’s address the common suggestion given to drivers: drink coffee. Coffee is great, and yes, it does indeed help to reduce tiredness and increase alertness. However, somewhat similar to drinks with sugar in them, caffeine also has a point in which it stops being effective. Caffeine doesn’t necessarily get rid of your tiredness, it merely delays it.
More suitable than coffee is basically any other drink that helps you stay hydrated. As I wrote in an article titled “Coffee for Long Road Trips; The Only Option?”, coffee and even water are not the only options to stay hydrated and energized during long drives. Water can also be made much more interesting and tasteful by infusing it with flavours, or consuming it in the form of sparkling water!
All of these suggestions combined will help ensure that you will be as alert and energized as possible so that you’ll arrive at your destination safely.