As the semester draws to a close, the excitement of returning home is darkened only by the impending promise of a long road trip. After a tiring 16 weeks of classes, many students are inevitably set to endure hours of the sleepy lull of freeway travel.So when drowsiness tugs heavy at your eyelids, here’s ten easy things you can do to stay alert.
Number Ten: Divine Intervention
Before getting in the car, it is (as always) a good idea to pray for your journey. Saint Christopher, the Patron Saint of travel, offers some inspiration with this very famous prayer:
“O God, You called Abraham Your servant out of Ur and kept him safe and sound in all his wanderings. If it is Your will, protect Your servants. Be for us a support when setting out, friendship along the way, a little shade from the sun, a mantle against cold and rain, a crutch on slippery paths, and a haven in shipwreck. Bear us up in fatigue, and defend us under attack. Under Your protection, let us fulfill the purpose for our trip and return safe and sound to our home. Amen.”
Number Nine: Caffeinate
Dutch Bros., Starbucks, Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar; it goes without saying. Motorists have clung to these energy charged beverages since the days of olden. When you start to feel a sleep deficit the size of a semester hitting you, surely a shot of caffeine to the taste buds will carry you the distance.
Number Eight: Turn on the Interior Lights
If you’re traveling at night, this is especially effective. According to the National Sleep Center, darkness naturally induces the body to produce melatonin, a sleep causing hormone. This is one of the reasons why average sleeping hours have decreased since the invention of the light bulb; we have access to well lit places long after the sun has gone down. Conveniently, your car is equipped with several sets of interior lights, so flick them on! Once you get over the odd sensation that a spotlight is shining on you from the heavens, your tired levels will improve dramatically.
Number Seven: Pump the Tunes
However, anything below 270 beats per minute is generally too slow. Despite the festive cheer in the air, Christmas music is probably a bad choice here. The last thing you want is to drift off into a slow motion daydream to the soothing thought of chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
Number Six: Sing it out!
It doesn’t matter if you can sing or not. It’s probably even a little better if you have no vocal ability whatsoever; just let the notes fly! Be sure to not hold back at all, this is a full-body experience. It should make you gasp for breath.
Number Five: Put your Seat in an odd Position
Resist the temptation to put your seat back and relax as your vehicle coasts down the freeway on cruise control. This may encourage you to doze off. Instead, put your seat back awkwardly high or low. You might be surprised how entertaining this is. With the seatback pushing you forward, you will feel like a gargoyle frozen in space and time, effortlessly gliding down a straight path of asphalt. If you tip the seatback ridiculously far back, past the point of comfort, you may feel like a gangster. Just don’t let it get to your head.
Number Four: Stop Somewhere Sketchy
As the hours of the night become more and more ugly, the rest stops slowly become more and more sketchy. This provides a unique opportunity for an adrenaline rush. If you’re not sure what to look for, generally signs that advertise a gas station chain you’ve never heard of before or restaurants that claim to be a 24 hour family business are good bets. By the time you get back in your car, you will happy to be alone and confined to the padded walls of your interior for the next 100 miles.
Number Three: Crank the A/C
Even though it’s December in Oregon, don’t overlook your 21st century ability to put your body into a distressed state of homeostasis. As your internal temperature plummets, you will find that those heavy eyelids will all but disappear. And don’t reach for that jacket in the backseat. To reap the full benefits you need to be as cold as possible.
Number 2: Pull off and stretch out
Don’t overlook the significant potential of some good old fresh air. And as your muscles grow tenser from the hours of sitting, doing some good quality stretches will be an excellent pick-me-up. Plus you won’t be so stiff when you get home.
Number 1: Get Some Shut Eye
Of course, be sure to pull over first. Never underestimate the healing ability just a 20 minute nap can have on your body. If necessary and/ or possible, get a room for the night. Know your ability as a driver and as a human being; don’t endanger yourself and the people around you.
More than anything though, be sure you have a Merry Christmas.