When to Start
Beginning your highway sojourn at the break of dawn, when the mind is calm and energetic, can help you stay fresh, sharp, and alert for most part of the day.
Highway hypnosis is a mental state in which a person driving a vehicle demonstrates a lack of awareness. Also referred to as drowsy driving, this usually happens on long highway drives wherein there is a decline in mental alertness. While driving, the person appears dazed staring at the road, and when the destination is finally reached, he/she is unable remember the exact route taken during the drive or how he/she managed to reach the destination. So, although the person is driving, he/she appears mentally detached from the surrounding environment.
Dealing with Highway Hypnosis
Avoid Elaborate Meals
Well, if you don't want to enter an altered state of consciousness, then avoid eating heavy meals during your highway sojourn. Having elaborate meals prior to driving can make you feel drowsy, thereby, increasing the risk of highway hypnosis. On the other hand, a light meal will help you to remain alert while driving and prevent you from falling into that road trance.
Shift Your Gaze
Don't stare at the road like a zombie while driving. This habit of keeping your eyes inactive can make you prone to highway hypnosis. So, shift your eyes frequently and look at the surrounding landscape. However, this certainly doesn't mean that you should be diverting your attention or losing focus while driving.
Get Adequate Sleep the Night Before
A sleep-deprived person in the driver's seat is vulnerable to that scary feeling of 'drowsy driving'. So, getting enough "shut eye" prior to your road trip is very important to avoid highway hypnosis. A minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sleep is necessary before beginning your highway trip.
Turn Up the Music
Tune in to your favorite radio destination or plug in your iPod when on a long drive. Listening to music can help you steer clear of that drowsy feeling. However, if you listen to soft music, there is a high probability of falling asleep. So, make sure you listen to upbeat tracks that keep you alert throughout your trip.
Going with a friend who can drive gives you the opportunity to take a break from driving. Also, there will be no need to stop the vehicle at unknown spots and put your safety in jeopardy. Instead, switching from the driver's seat every couple of hours can help you relax, thus, preventing you from zoning out. Another plus point of having someone for company while driving is that you can play mental games, like testing your memory, recalling conversations, etc. In short, the more you do for yourself, the sharper your mind will be.
Drive with an Erect Posture
You need to keep a good posture when driving your vehicle. A reclining or hunched-over posture while driving can make you feel drowsy. Your posture should be erect and upright whenever you are on the driver's seat to prevent driver fatigue and the subsequent highway hypnosis.
Roll Down the Windows/Turn the AC
Well, if you want to feel fresh, comfortable, and alert while driving, ensure that the vehicle is well-ventilated. An air-conditioned system (adjusted to a high setting) installed in your vehicle keeps you from feeling drowsy. However, during winters, you may just roll down the windows and get yourself some fresh air to keep you alert while driving.
In the end, it's required that you be honest with yourself. If your body signals to you that a power nap is not going to help, then find a motel room or just park at a safe place and sleep in your car. You may fall behind in your schedule, but that's much better than falling asleep behind the wheel and meeting with an accident.