April 6, 2009

What do you do on a long drive when you are overcome with sleepiness?

That was me sleeping in the reclined front seat of my car in the parking lot of a McDonald's in El Paso, Illinois yesterday.

67 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I am never able to sleep like that in a car -- I always envisage some murderer sneaking up on me. I admit that's an unlikely scenario in a parking lot of a McDonald's in El Paso, Illinois.

I think I'd be more likely to get out, splash some water on my face in the bathroom of the McDonald's in El Paso, IL, and then get a Coke to go. Except I'd stop at a Culver's if I could. I don't like the smell of McDonald's.

Maguro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Coffee! The boredom can almost put you into a coma sometimes. Also roll down the window, if there is cold air. The 3:00 AM sleep patterns are the most "painfull" to fight. The "Rest Areas" are more dangerous than a truck stop, especially if you are driving by yourself. Best advice is to drive while the sun is up.

ricpic said...

Wow is it ever important to pull over to the side of the road when you're sleepy. I say that as someone who fell asleep while driving twice and both times snapped out of it just in time. Pure luck. Pull over and nap. So you'll get there 20 minutes later. Beats the alternative.

AngryKook said...

Put on one of the XM/Sirius comedy channels. I find it hard to fall asleep when I'm laughing. Unfortunately, with this method I'm putting my life into their programming department's hands.

John Burgess said...

This year, I've been doing a lot of 15-18-hour drives. I find that breaking up the drive around with halfway point with an hour's nap (in my case, at Interstate rest stops with 24-hr protection) does me just fine.

If weather conditions are such that the drive is going to take much longer, then I'll pull into a motel for a six-hour sleep.

I'm not young anymore, when a 24-hour drive was no sweat as long as the caffeine flowed.

peter hoh said...

Been there. Done that.

I second AngryKook's suggestion. A few comedy CDs helped me get through a long haul a few years ago.

The Drill SGT said...

vintage Janis Jopplin is an antidote

ElcubanitoKC said...

Lots of coffee, until your face is all greasy and the caffeine is coming out of your pores. It also keeps weird people at bay.

ironrailsironweights said...

Lots of coffee, until your face is all greasy and the caffeine is coming out of your pores. It also keeps weird people at bay.

Except then you'll be making so many restroom stops that the drive will take forever.

Peter

SteveR said...

Age has definetly made it harder. Pulling over for short naps is a good idea but the reality of not being 25 (or 35, or 45) years old is tough on road trips.

Greybeard said...

Coffee only works temporarily for me. When it wears off, my eyes really want to slam shut. Too much caffeine makes my heart do funny things.
For me, sucking on ice cubes/crushed ice pops my eyes wide open.

rhhardin said...

Think about baseball.

ElcubanitoKC said...

ironrailsironweights said...
Lots of coffee, until your face is all greasy and the caffeine is coming out of your pores. It also keeps weird people at bay.

Except then you'll be making so many restroom stops that the drive will take forever.

Peter

9:28 AM


But that will keep you awake. Hehehe. The objective is to get there alive, and if you take a nap, your arrival time would be the same.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I used to haul vegetables up and down the east coast. Most long distance truckers know that the riskiest time for drowsiness is 12 hours after the mid-point of your previous night's sleep.

Plan for a 20 to 45 minute nap then and the rest of the trip shouldn't be too bad. It also helps to eat very little, preferably just light grazing snacks periodically.

Chris said...

"When I die, I would like to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my grandfather did. Not screaming and yelling like the passenger in his car." E.g., here.

Crimso said...

"Except then you'll be making so many restroom stops that the drive will take forever."

Not necessarily. You could go all "Fatal Attraction" astronaut on the situation.

Issob Morocco said...

A pillow fight at the rest stops.

Tibore said...

"What do you do on a long drive when you are overcome with sleepiness?"

I usually start to weave and nearly cause a wreck.

:-|


Hey, it's not like she asked what we should do when it happens. Right??

;)

Smilin' Jack said...

Reminds me of that scene in Psycho where the cop raps on Janet Leigh's window to tell her that sleeping in her car is dangerous. So she checks into the Bates Motel.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Play Madonna's "American Life" album and force yourself to listen to the lyrics. You'll cringe and that will keep you from falling asleep. When this wears off try loud techno music or something you can sing to really loud, like ABBA.

David said...

I do what you did. Pull over and sleep. (In a public, well lighted place.)

commenter said...

550 miles is not a long drive, Ann.

Be careful of coffee. Use it wisely and only as medicine in extreme cases.

a word about coffee from the 1900s

The nervousness and peevishness of our times are chiefly attributable to tea and coffee ; " he says that " the digestive organs of confirmed coffee drinkers are in a state of chronic derangement, which reacts on the brain, producing fretful and lachrymose moods. Ladies addicted to strong coffee have a characteristic temper, which may be described as a mania for acting the persecuted saint."

Ann Althouse said...

When I'm really tired, especially in the afternoon, coffee puts me to sleep!

ElcubanitoKC said...

Ann Althouse said...
When I'm really tired, especially in the afternoon, coffee puts me to sleep!

10:33 AM


Tea then?

Brent said...

Many times I have pulled over into a safe well lit spot to grab just 20 - 35 minutes - enough to refresh for 2 -3 more hours. And I am your age Ann, AND diabetic. So continuous small snacking is necessary for me - mostly veggies and proteins like natural peanut butter. No big meals on long trips.

The safest places I have found to park and catch a quick nap? Large Truck Stop Gas Stations: Ambest, Pilot, Petro.

fcai said...

Good that you were in the reclined front seat. Does a TT have a back seat?

mcg said...

Out in the west Illy town of El Paso
I dreamed of the love of a man from afar
Night-time would find me in the lot at McDonald's
Sleeping it off in the seat of my car

mcg said...

Sorry Marty.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Hahaha, mgc, good one!

dbp said...

I used to have to pull-over and sleep a lot at one point in my life: I lived in Sun Valley Idaho and had Marine Reserve drills in Washington.

One small, but very nice trick, is to move-over to the passenger side to sleep in. It is much more comfortable with no steering wheel in the way and the passenger seat is less used, so less broken-in. Also, it helps you to become fully awake when you move back to the driver's side.

srfwotb said...

There's a reason truckers are into meth.

Ipod ipod ipod. I have tunes on it. I have lectures on it. I have spanish lessons on it. If I start early and take Highway 5 to NoCal instead of the scenic route, it seems shorter. No cure for extreme sleepiness, but drugs or sleep - like sleep ON A PLANE.

I make the trip up to SF or Sacramento (which is the same mileage) and it's less than $200. No need to make last minute trips anymore. You guys can get on the two-weeks-in-advance plan.

Lem said...

I let out a really loud sustained scream once... it didn’t work.

k*thy said...

I've played an alphabet game with the road signs - words starting with 'A'...and so on, in order. It seems to keep your mind working.

I also keep a Mountain Dew and Snickers, near by, on extended trips.

Big Mike said...

But it's good that you thought to get off the road. A woman fell asleep at the wheel on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and caused a fatal accident. She'll have to live with that the rest of her life.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

At least womenfolk having a nap at the truck stops don't have to worry about the lot lizards waking them up ...

theobromophile said...

Coffee, lots of healthy snacks (veggies, apples, crackers), and a ridiculous amount of chocolate. Oh, and lots of water or Gatorade.

I've slept in more than my share of rest stops, and, knock on wood, have yet to have a problem. I leave the keys in the ignition in case I need to turn the car on and make a run for it in a hurry. I find either ones with a lot of truckers coming in and out, or one of those nice rest stops with 24-hour services (McDonalds, gas station, etc).

srfwotb said...

Of course this is only recommended for those with ipod outlets in their car. ;-)

I don't advise adding headphones to sleepiness.

madawaskan said...

Damn it, this is off my hands but if something happens to you or somebody else don't say I didn't try to warn or nag both of you.

Flying is cheap if you plan in advance.

The person telling you it's nothing up the thread has admitted previously to being bi-polar.

So ya...

If you and her are in agreement...

I've watched you for years in video blogs.

Sorry but the major driving is catching up to you.

One of the rarest signs of intelligence is -

knowing your limit.

PS-An excess of a stimulant will actually have a depressive effect.

madawaskan said...

Cripes make that limits plural with an ssssss.


Hssssssss...

I can't tell you how many stories I know of with long distance romances and one of them getting killed.

Really weird.

Anyways, one guy was married to my best friend and he was still devastated that his college sweetheart drove into a bridge support ten years later.

Then there was the time two cadets tried to make it back in time and froze to death because of course they were invincible and could make it through....

mcg said...

You gotta die of somethin'.

JAL said...

As I mentioned above, I am into books on tape (err... CDs now) when I (and we) travel.

It works best for me if they are mysteries or spy stuff (or "thrillers") I keep listening / looking for how it fits together, which keeps my mind engaged.

It's a great way to catch up on what I call "junk" reading. But I have listened to a couple things other than that which were surprising in how they engaged me (Amy Tan was good.)

There are some great history ones out there too ... the Endurance was one I listened to and was so impressed that I then listened to it again with hubby on a long drive. Amazing story.

And then there is the stuff that makes you laugh out loud -- Bill Bryson doing the Appalachian Trail. Sort of. And Australia -- where you don't want to go as you will die from some unbelievable creature's spit ... or a salt water croc... Laughter keeps me awake.

So listening to books almost always keeps me awake.

Stopping to sleep is good.

I think an armed woman feels safer traveling, but would still look for a safe place.

And there ARE those last minute deals on the airlines ....

Bruce Kratofil said...

I play my Wake-Up Mix:

Born to be Wild
Radar Love ("Been driving all night my hands wet on the wheel...")
Born to Run
Dance to the Music
Soul Man
Good Lovin'
Bat out of Hell
Jailhouse Rock

All high energy songs

madawaskan said...

Damn it mcg-I'm laughing my ass off!

Also PSS-

Contintental-Madison to Cinc- 21 day advance

$168.

madawaskan said...

OK-

Here I'll "share" my stay awake tip-

Take a bunch of straight pins with you and shove them in your thigh -oh about every ten minutes.

Call it one handed do it yourself acupuncture...

Bill White said...

No one has mentioned cigarettes yet. Back when I was driving my ass off a smoke would keep me alert for 10-15 minutes. Stop and get out and walk around. Crank the oldies station (or a mixtape, etc) and sing loud. My last-ditch desperation move was to tense my leg and stomach muscles as much as possible - that often got me through the last few minutes of a sleepy drive.

Be careful with caffeine - you can overdose on it. I did, and now anything but decaf gives me ohmygodimgonnadie heart palpitations.

madawaskan said...

Look I'm trying to create a mood here...

I want tales of destruction, flame balls of death, and lovers crushed a la Romeo and Juliet....

ElcubanitoKC said...

madawaskan said...
Look I'm trying to create a mood here...

I want tales of destruction, flame balls of death, and lovers crushed a la Romeo and Juliet....

12:25 PM


What about a crushed Alfa Romeo instead?

Tibore said...

"Lem said...
I let out a really loud sustained scream once... it didn’t work."


What... you fell asleep screaming?

(*Ducks*)

ElcubanitoKC said...

madawaskan:

http://blog.ecr.co.za/newswatch/?p=1020

Sort of on topic too...

Enjoy

madawaskan said...

ElcubanitoKC-

Yes!

[...on multiple levels...]

Jason said...

Ann,

Don't push yourself to that limit.

The human body will take sleep and there is little you can do to stop it after a point. And you don't always know when that point is. If people did, no one would ever fall asleep at the wheel.

I learned from grandpa: Don't make gambles you can't afford to lose.

I believe in long courtships and short engagements. Get a room halfway, and get married and pick a house together already!

That way, when you do make the drive, you and Meade can take turns at the wheel.

Christy said...

Exercise! How many bicep curls can you do? Foot pumps? Tighten and release the glutes.

Clean! Once, for whatever reason, I found a spray bottle of cleaner in the console and scrubbed everything within reach.

Robin Williams' "Good Morning, Vietnam" is a great high energy CD to wake you up.

And yes, I take 30 minute naps at interstate rest stops. But mostly, I've learned to embrace hotels. I just don't want to deal with the problems that can occur on the road when I'm exhausted from a long drive.

John Cunningham said...

I was driving only 90 miles on Saturday after an intense 2-day Wilderness First Aid class course, and I stopped to snooze for 30 minutes. Best to catch a short nap when needed.
And a curious coincidence, I am reading Neil Gaiman's excellent book, American Gods. Last night, the main character, Shadow, was driving south through Illinois. He picked up a hitchhiker and dropped her off in El Paso, IL.

k*thy said...

All kidding aside, the best bet is to pull over, nap or let your husband drive for a while...

I'm remembering a warning on a meditation cd I once purchased. It read, "Don't listen to while driving".

Kensington said...

Make sure the car is aimed in the right direction, put on the cruise control and hope for the best.

Or, seriously, I sing along with my iPod. Hard to fall asleep when you're singing.

But inevitably, I pull over and nap. Never thought about rest stops being unsafe, though. Is that terribly naive?

John Burgess said...

Most of my driving has been on the southern half if I-95. I don't normally have music/radio on as I find the music tedious for the most part. But if I'm lagging, a good exercise is to listen to the radio and try to find the not-Gospel stations in the South.

If the temperatures are low, it's often helpful to roll those windows down and get a quick blast freeze.

I also make note of the other vehicles traveling in my direction. I often see the same vehicle three or four times along the 1,000-mile route. Then I try to guess which ones are running drugs. The NASCAR and horse trailers are suspicious looking in themselves.

Big Mike said...

k*thy is right. Anything that can distract you is capable of distracting you from the basic chore of driving. You know, things like noticing you are overtaking a car that is slowing down, deer at the side of the road who might suddenly bound across, a person pulled not very far off the side of the road changing a flat, a driver weaving all over the road because he or she is drunk or sleepy. That sort of stuff.

On the other hand, if you decide life has become too burdensome you try an audio book late at night that's narrated by Ben Stein.

knox said...

Roll the windows all the way down and get a coffee or a coke.

prairie wind said...

Stopping at a fast food place may not be the safest place to stop.

I pull over on the side of the road or park in a parking lot (away from signs, now), set my alarm for 25 minutes and snooze. Nothing better than napping in a car warmed by sunshine. Not bad on a cloudy day, either.

EDH said...

I’m not sure, but having gay sex with many anonymous partners in the bushes adjacent to highway rest stops seems to be a popular choice around here.

New Rules Alter Line Drawn on Public Sex
Boston Globe, March 2, 2001

By Andrea Estes

Massachusetts State Police will not automatically roust people meeting at roadside rest areas—even people believed to be engaging in sexual activity, according to new guidelines disclosed yesterday...

The policy was issued to settle a lawsuit brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders on behalf of a gay man who was banned from highway rest stops on Cape Cod. Gays have long complained that they are harassed by police when they gather in public places, said Mary Bonauto, who represented GLAD in the case.

"This order, included in the [State Police] policy manual, is an incredibly positive first step," said Bonauto.

"This is major," said Captain Robert Bird, a State Police spokesman. "The State Police don’t want to infringe upon anybody’s rights and I think this order will help clarify exactly what those rights are."

The plaintiff in the case, called John Doe in court papers, had been convicted a year earlier for having sex with another man in the woods next to a Wareham rest stop.

"We’re not making specific accusations," Bonauto said, "but troopers need to be aware that just because they see something doesn’t mean it’s public activity and a criminal offense — far from it."

The new rules codify informal ones issued by State Police in October 1999, after Middlesex Superior Court Judge Wendie Gershengorn barred police from expelling the Cape man, who is 57, from rest areas.

Bird said yesterday that the new policy "instructs our troopers to follow the way the Supreme Judicial Court has interpreted the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

The rules make clear that "socializing and expressions of affection" are not considered sexual conduct. And public sexual conduct is not illegal unless there is a "substantial risk" that the conduct will be observed by a casual passerby, the order says.

"There’s a difference between doing it on a pitcher’s mound in the middle of the day and obviously taking steps to secret yourself," said Bonauto.

However, one police source yesterday called the new policy "ludicrous" and predicted troopers will continue to roust gay people from parks and rest stops.

"These rules are lawyer psychobabble," said the source. "They won’t change anyone’s behavior. If someone is doing that in a public place, a rest area, where passersby have access, it isn’t right. And this is not going to change any [trooper’s] approach to enforcing the law."

The plaintiff, who could not be reached for comment, brought the suit after first complaining directly to State Police.

He claimed that one trooper in particular, Shawn Walsh, was harassing him. But Walsh was cleared after a review by Major John Kelley, commander of the Middleborough barracks, found that John Doe had "unlawful intent" even though he was doing nothing illegal.

Bonauto said yesterday that with the new guidelines, "The most important thing is that officers may not order someone to leave an area in the absence of criminal activity. It doesn’t matter that the officer thinks they may have unlawful intent. It’s not the job of the State Police to be the thought police."

State Police have taken a number of other steps to improve their relationship with gays and lesbians.

They are training all recruits under the new rules and offering training for all current officers. They have also agreed to set up a new complaint procedure, and hold regular meetings with members of GLAD.

"GLAD fully intends to identify those officers who refuse to treat gay people respectfully," said Gary Buseck, GLAD’s executive director. "People should feel free to call [GLAD hotlines] if they have been forced out of a public area simply because they are gay or are congregating with other people of the same sex."

"Gay people should be treated with the same respect as any other citizen," Bonauto said. "If that gay person is not acting unlawfully, then you should leave him or her alone," she said.

Pogo said...

Too bad you can't buy one or two tabs of Provigil or Ritalin per month without a prescription, explicitly for this purpose.

KKetel said...

The secret to coffee is to drink it all down just before you take a nap. When you wake up your blood will have absorbed the caffiene and you will be good to go. Caffiene takes a good 40 minutes or so to be completely absorbed by your bloodstream. This works whenever you take a nap for an hour or whatever. I learned this when I worked the overnight shift

I also decided to find out more information about El Paso and found this on the wiki page:


"El Paso is a piece of shit small community in Central Illinois that took on more characteristics of a highway community after Interstate 39 was built (U.S. Highway 51, the old major north/south road, was overlapped onto the new Interstate after its construction). In addition, El Paso is a potential stop for Chicago-Peoria traffic via U.S. Highway 24. The people in this town suck major dick.

"

Rockeye said...

I once chose to be homeless for a few months, just to try it out. I lived out of my Geo Metro, sleeping in the reclined driver's seat, with a sleeping bad draped over me. I generally slept quite well, except of course when policemen knocked on the window. A very interesting experience altogether.

amba said...

You MUST pull over and sleep. It always amazes me that the brain's drive to sleep is so strong that it will actually shut itself down while hurtling along at 65 mph in 3000 lbs of metal. But if you're confident and comfortable driving, it's even worse. Your brain doesn't believe you're in danger.

amba said...

Think about baseball.

*SNORE*

m00se said...

I have driven on so many long road trips for work, that I love sleeping in the car.

More than that, I particularly love sleeping in cold weather on exit ramps in the middle of no where. There is nothing like the ability to nest in the driver's seat with the engine off in sub zero weather and sleep comfortably.

It's like being an Inuit in the far north. You feel like you can handle anything.