Drowsy Driving Is Dangerous
Daylight Saving Time – Because we all really needed an extra hour of 2020.
Daylight Saving Time (if you’re saying ‘Daylight Savings Time’, you are wrong and should stop) causes many horrifying things to happen to your body, including messing up your circadian rhythm. In the late fall, we set the clocks back one hour, which means that it suddenly begins to get darker much earlier in the afternoon. The human body likes to sleep when it’s dark outside and your brain takes night-time as a cue to go into sleepy mode. The clock change makes driving in the evening even more dangerous than usual, because your body hasn’t adjusted to the new time schedule and has yet to figure out that in winter, darkness does not equal sleep. There’s really not a whole lot you can do about this other than make sure you’re getting enough sleep regularly.
This is not true, no one has attempted a turkey infusion during surgery, at least not successfully.
If you guessed that Thanksgiving might play a part in drowsy driving, you are right. There are no prizes though, so don’t get too excited. Most Americans spend Thanksgiving waiting for turkey, eating turkey and then falling asleep, then rounding it out with some pie. In fact, we actually consider it to be the natural order of things. It would be an historic failure on the part of whomever roasted/fried/deep-fried that turkey if no one fell asleep in front of the football game. The nap is an integral part of the celebration. Americans only give themselves a single acceptable siesta once a year. We’re busy people, okay?
There’s this thing in turkey called tryptophan. Tryptophan causes your glands to secrete melatonin (secreted most during sleep) and the melatonin causes your glands to secrete serotonin (also known as happy brain juices) which makes you feel pretty good, rested and generally pleased. This is how your body rewards you for sleeping. It knows, through some sciency, evolutionary, biological, chemistry stuff, that you would probably not sleep if you weren’t rewarded for the action. Sleep is boring, unless you have amazing dreams and can do that thing where you realize you’re dreaming and then control the dream like a crazy, cool imaginary version of Minecraft.
The problem is that loads of people think that it’s ideal to drive home after having chowed down on some delicious bird. It’s a terrible idea to drive anywhere after eating any sort of big meal. Food is one of those other things that induces sleep in general, it’s just that tryptophan provides that extra hint. Not only is it likely peak sleep times (between 5pm-8pm) when you’re headed home after dinner, but you’re also suffering food coma symptoms. You are a danger to yourself and others if you’re on the road. So, don’t.
I know what you’re thinking. This can’t be it, there must be a way around this. “I am master of my body, I tell it what to do, not the other way around!” Sure, keep shouting into the mirror…
Coffee, Monster, Red-Bull: none of these will solve your problems.
Coffee and tea have been getting people going every morning since the beginning of time. There are thousands of humans that will instruct other humans not to even speak to them until they’ve had their morning fixer. Those same people drink that coffee, get their buzz on and drive to work. They only encounter a problem if the commute is a bit longer than expected and their coffee wears off (or their coffee “kicks in”, which is an entirely different problem that we shan’t be discussing here). Coffee and energy drinks contain caffeine, which gives the body a temporary pick-me up. It’s not permanent though, and it wears off in a pretty short time. Neither coffee, nor energy drinks, are able to prevent ‘micro-sleep’ spells.
A ‘micro-sleep’ is when you fall asleep for around 5-15 seconds. This happens to most people throughout the day if they don’t get at least 7-8 hours of sleep the night before. Just 5-15 seconds sounds like an incredibly short time, because it is under normal circumstances, so short that we barely notice it happened. Behind the wheel, you could travel 150 feet in that short amount of time. That’s a lot of time and space to make a lot of mistakes. ‘Micro-sleep’ spells have caused people to drive right off the road. It mostly occurs on highways or rural routes, when there’s nothing of great interest to look at or keep your eyes occupied.
As the days get colder, shorter and riddled with food comas, it is imperative that you get enough sleep to keep you mindful and safe on the roads. There will be weather hazards, first time drivers, anxiety, holiday stress and a hundred other things to deal with while you’re behind the wheel this season. Drowsy driving isn’t something else you want on your plate. Save lives and take a nap before you drive.