How to... stay alert on a long drive

The long, dark highway stretching in front of us, the kilometres to get under our belt, the window down and music up to try and stay alert... it's not just the province of long-haul truck drivers. That said, much can be learnt from those whose lives, and livelihood, are spent on the road. Here are some to get you through your next epic road trip.

  1. Take a power nap. A short, 20-minute sleep before you head out can do wonders for your mental and physical state. It's long enough to make you feel rested, but not too long that you feel groggy upon waking.
  2. Go for a walk. Right before you get behind the wheel, go for a brisk walk or do a light workout. Get the blood moving before you get moving.
  3. Eat well. It's easy to stock up on chips and lollies, and hit the drive-through, but the short-term gains are not worth the long-term pain. Sugar crashes lead to fatigue. Before you hit the road for the day, eat a meal with plenty of protein, vegetables, and fibre. The vitamins and minerals found in healthy food, such as magnesium and B12, naturally stave off sleepiness. As an added benefit, relying on healthy food instead of junk food can minimise sleep disturbances, letting you get more out of each night of sleep.
  4. Stop for a break. Taking regular breaks when you're feeling tired actually won't add that much time to your trip, but a lot to your wellbeing. Even if it's just a few minutes to go to the toilet, drink a cup of tea or have a bit of a walk.
  5. Dial down the heat. A warm cabin makes for a sleepy one. Keeping the air-conditioner set to just a few degrees below comfortable can help stop you drifting off.
  6. Tune into a podcast. Music can be relaxing - too relaxing. A podcast or audio book is a better option: it engages your mind, keeping you alert.
  Tips thanks to