Falling Asleep At The Wheel: Causes

Falling asleep at the wheel

Do you spend a lot of time behind the wheel of a car? Have you ever experienced those horrible occasions whilst driving and suddenly your energy just drains away?

You go into a trance-like state for a while before your eyes close and you nod-off for a spilt second. Opening the window and turning up the music doesn’t seem to make a difference – it just feels like your body wants to shut-down! Could this be to do with your blood sugar levels?

Red bull and Mars bars might provide a temporary jolt of energy, but they’re not a very affective way to deal with the cause of the problem: a drop in blood sugar levels!

One of the main causes of falling asleep at the wheel, unless genuinely down to complete exhaustion, is blood sugar. All carbs including porridge, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, muffins etc, get turned into sugar for energy; as sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin to transport it to our cells to be used as fuel.

Ideally, just the right amount of insulin is produced for the job in hand, but depending on what and how much you’ve eaten (and a few other factors), too much can be produced causing a spike then a drop.

It’s the drop in blood sugar level that makes us feel really tired as the body needs to partially shut itself down to carry out the digestion process.

There are a few simple things we can do to minimise the risk of this happening:

  1. Don’t eat a heavy carb-based or fatty meal before driving – go for something light and refreshing if we know we’ll be on the road for a while.
  2. Don’t snack on crisps, carbonated (fizzy) drinks or coffee during the drive.
  3. Do drink plenty of water to stay hydrated – this also helps the digestive process).
  4. Do take a quick pit stop on a long journey – even just for a quick pee and stretch out your legs.  This sounds obvious but we all know how tempting it is to push on through to avoid the rush hour.
  5. Do keep a packet of raw almonds in the glove compartment (available at most supermarkets) – they provide a natural energy boost.

This also applies to afternoon meetings in the office – as there’s nothing more insulting than nodding off in the middle of one:)

3 comment(s)

This is very useful – thanks. I don’t spend too much time behind the wheel, but when I am out at meetings all day in central London I often suddenly become tried. Now I’ll keep a packet of almonds in my pocket (as well as a Mars bar!)

Some excellent advice there. I used to nod off quite regularly whilst driving, very scary when you think what could have happened!

Almonds, of course! I heard about their many qualities in terms of vitamins and excellent properties. Well, I’ll confess…. I do have the quick-fix Mars bar in my draw at work. But I often have a packet of dried apricots too. Most probably to counterbalance those many sweets I indulge myself with 🙂
Almonds are a great alternative (and not as sticky as apricots can sometimes be). Mind you, no one touches my keyboard then lol).
Thanks for the tips/reminder!

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