When you’re having fun, it’s easy to overlook the importance of safety. In this article, I’ll go over some things to keep in mind while on vacation. I’ll address some safety issues, as well as help you make sure you’re taking care of the important stuff.
But what does this all have to do with sleep? Read on…
Have fun but be Safe
It’s finally here! The day you’ve been waiting for. All the planning paid off, and now it’s time to enjoy that time away. But did you forget something? Hopefully, you have everything ready; but you already feel a sense of urgency because you need to get on the road by a certain time. So your stress level is up a notch. But remember, keep it fun.
Then there are all those extra cars on the road. That’s another thing. And that thought raises your stress level another notch. But you’re not the only one whose stress level goes up thinking about theses things. So, we’ve got several things going on here:
1-There are more cars on the road, with people driving more miles.
2-People’s stress levels might a bit higher than usual.
3-Drivers face more distractions.
With all that planning, don’t forget the most important thing…
First, let’s take a look at some of the things that cause distracted driving. They are:
- Talking-either with other in the car. Or other people talking. Like kids, for instance.
- Talking on a cell phone or texting-Pull over if you need to make that call, or send that text.
- Eating-Stop somewhere, and take time out to eat.
- Changing radio station/changing temp controls.
- Reaching to pick up something you dropped.
- ‘Zoning out’.
And as you can see, they all have one thing in common…paying attention to something other than driving. However, ‘zoning out’ is the biggest cause of distracted driving.
Let’s take a look at some of these things.
Dying to Have fun
Did you know that the highest number of traffic fatalities occur on Memorial Day weekend, with Labor Day and July 4th close behind? In addition to this, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as the 100 deadliest days for teenage drivers.
With that, consider the following.
An average car weighs around 4,000 pounds; while an average SUV is somewhere around 6,000 pounds.
At 60 MPH, you travel 88 feet every second. That’s the length of a football field in 3.4 seconds! And drivers who text, take their eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 88 feet per second, that’s 440 feet or almost one and a half football fields!
And most vehicles are going faster than 88 feet per second on the highway.
Imagine a 4,000-pound chunk of steel barreling down the road at 88 feet per second all by itself. That’s essentially what happens when you take your eyes off the road.
Now, let’s add you into this mix.
You’re on the road, most likely on unfamiliar roads, so at least that helps you stay more alert. However, other factors come into play to add to your distraction/tiredness. Things like kids in the car, a different sleep schedule, sleeping in different places, and driving more than usual. And you can still ‘zone out’ if you drive for too long a time.
Let’s face it, vacations can be tiring. And drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and can be just as deadly. See http://sleepguyblog.com/drowsy-drivers-kill-people/ Yup, here I go again, spoiling all the fun.
But really, you can still have fun if you just keep some things in mind.
Don’t Forget What’s Important
So then, here are some helpful tips on preparing for your awesome vacation:
Maintaining the same sleep schedule is important, but probably not practical or realistic while on vacation.
Get a good nights sleep, not only before the trip but all throughout your vacation as well. Keep in mind that getting a good night’s rest the night before can be more difficult if you’re excited about the trip.
When driving long distance, switch drivers every 2 hrs. Or switch sooner if you feel tired, or find it hard to ‘stay in the moment’. Like, maybe you’re getting anxious, and feel the need to rush things a bit. Stay patient!
Make sure your car is in good shape–Get a tune up before taking off.
Plan your route. Use GPS, and have it ‘dialed in’ before you start out.
Still not sure where to go? Follow this link to some affordable vacation ideas. https://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalsBlog/2015/06/19/summer-savings-29-affordable-vacation-rental-destinations
O.K, so you’ve got your trip all planned out, and your car is tuned up and ready to go; but what about you? Are you both physically and mentally ready for this? Because, really, there will already be enough drowsy/distracted drivers out there. You really don’t need to add another one.
Let’s check one more thing.
Have fun, but get it Done
With all that danger out there, it’s even more important that you’re extra alert. With that in mind, let’s talk sleep apnea for a moment.
Do any of the following describe you?
- Loud chronic snoring.
- Gasping or choking sounds.
- Frequent trips to the bathroom.
- Waking with dry mouth and/or a sore throat.
- Waking with a morning headache.
- Are you tired all the time?
- Being moody and irritable.
If so, have you used any of these excuses for how you are?
- This is how I always sleep.
- It’s not that bad.
- I could just lose some weight.
- Snoring doesn’t hurt me.
- I don’t want to wear a mask.
Do you need a sleep study, but are too busy right now? Maybe you’ll wait till fall when the kids are back in school. Perhaps now is a bad time. After all, you’re getting ready for that fun vacation you’ve been planning for some time. You can always go in later, right?
I mean really, who wants to spend a night in some hospital when it’s so nice out? Besides, this is vacation time! And these days are numbered.
Well, if you haven’t already, you might want to see my article on the dangers of untreated sleep apnea http://sleepguyblog.com/alarming-truth-sleep-apnea/
It’s worth not being another statistic.
And yes, you can travel with a CPAP machine. One of my patients is a Doctor who takes his CPAP with when he goes mountain climbing. It’s a special one that adjusts to different elevations.
While it’s nice to get away, it’s even more important to be fully awake and alert while on the road. With increased traffic, comes increased distracted drivers, and increased traffic fatalities. Plan ahead, stay alert, and don’t get in a hurry. And remember, even if you’re ok and alert, there are others who aren’t.
I hope you have lots of fun on your vacation. Be carefree, but not careless.
Till next time…Blessings