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Arrive alive: How NOT to fall asleep behind the wheel

What really got me was falling asleep behind the wheel with the boys in the car. I am SO thankful for rumble strips! Wonder how many lives those have saved?!

I recently got that nightmare-of-a-text from a friend. And it immediately transported me back to college. When my chemistry lab partner died over Thanksgiving break. Because she fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the road. Into a tree. To die at 19 because of too many all-nighters…So terribly sad.

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“A report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 4.5 percent of drivers aged eighteen to twenty-four had fallen asleep behind the wheel in the previous month.”

–Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life, one night at a time


How many of you can relate to that moment when you’re navigating a long-ass car trip with your kids? And you start to feel your eyelids shut? You keep thinking, Only an hour to go til we stop for dinner. We can make it! Keep pressing on!

How stupid is that?


“…in a National Sleep Foundation poll, 60 percent of adults admitted to driving while drowsy within the past year. That translates into 168 million people – and those are just the ones who admit to it. More than a third of those, or 56 million people, have actually nodded off behind the wheel.”

–Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life, one night at a time


Here are some tips on how to keep yourself awake when driving. In other words, how NOT to fall asleep behind the wheel. So you arrive alive.


STOP OFTEN! TAKE NAPS! STRETCH YOUR LEGS! DO JUMPING JACKS! TAKE A BRISK WALK! INDULGE IN CAFFEINE!

Who the hell cares if it takes you 8 hours for a typical 3-hour trip? (Welcome to life with children.) The important thing is that you ARRIVE ALIVE.

And that you do your part and protect others on the road – by not running into them.




The #RockStarDad in my life and I had the opportunity to put these tips into practice a couple weeks ago when making the long trek home from grandma’s house with our boys. Instead of JUST PRESSING ON and praying Jesus take the wheel, we found a state park along our route. We parked the car and took turns taking a 15-minute nap.

Because our boys aren’t really into napping these days.

We’ve attempted the car-nap where parents-sleep-kids-play-quietly and it usually devolves into: children kicking the back of our car seats or children screaming loudly like firetrucks or children spitting on each other or children suddenly declaring they MUST PEE NOW! (Y’all, if your kids fall asleep when you’re driving, that is NIRVANA. Find the nearest parking lot and take your own CAR NAP – ASAP.)

Thus, the taking of turns.

We set a timer and hubby napped for 15 minutes while I babysit. Then we switched. And after our designated naps, we each did jumping jacks to really get the blood flowing. Plus, being out in nature is a super wake-up pill. AND, the boys were OUT OF THE CAR for 30 minutes – which helped them get out all the obnoxious wiggles, to make for a more pleasant ride the rest of the way home.

It was blissful. Everyone benefited from this 30-minute break. Me and baby daddy were much calmer (and wakeful) and ready to handle any car tantrums the creatures in the backseat threw our way.

When you’re staring down the barrel of a 6-hour car ride anyway, what’s an extra 30-minute SAFETY BREAK?


Momma, these tips totally apply to your every day life, too. Like when you have a sleepless night and must get up the next day – for family and work and groceries and…ALL the THINGS! that require you to get behind the wheel of a car.

A 15-minute cat nap will do you good. (Just make sure you have a collapsible cooler bag in your trunk for all that ice cream you just bought.)

Because I don’t want to get an email from you about the beauty of rumble strips. But, seriously, THANK GOD for rumble strips.

What are your go-to tips to stay awake while driving? Comment below or on Facebook at MothersRest.


Photo credit: StockSnap from Pixabay.com

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