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8 Tricks You Need to Stay Awake During Long Drives

Snap your body out of trying to drift off so you can stay safe behind the wheel.

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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. Read these tips for surviving 11 scary driving scenarios.

istock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Make it a buddy trip

Invite a friend on a long 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 ride.

iStock/AlenaPaulus

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 percent reduced chance of crashing than those who didn’t have caffeine. Here’s what coffee does to your brain.

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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. Check out these tricks for the most energizing nap ever.

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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.

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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. Avoid these sneaky energy-draining foods.

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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.

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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

Originally Published in Reader's Digest