Feeling Tired on the Road

According to the National Sleep Foundation's "Drowsy Driving" web site, there are many underlying causes of sleepiness, fatigue and drowsy driving. These include sleep loss from restriction or not enough sleep, interruption of sleep or fragmented sleep; chronic sleep debt; circadian factors associated with driving patterns or work schedules; undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders; time spent on a task; the use of sedating medications; and the consumption of alcohol when already tired. A combination of any of these factors can greatly increase one's risk for a fatigue-related accident.

Here are some signs that should tell a driver to stop and rest:

  • If you have difficulty focusing, heavy eyelids or frequent blinking
  • If you find yourself daydreaming, wandering or having disconnected
  • thoughts
  • If you have trouble remembering the last few miles driven
  • If you find yourself missing exits or traffic signs
  • If you find that you're yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes a lot
  • If you have trouble keeping your head up
  • If you are drifting from your lane, tailgating, or find yourself driving over
  • a shoulder rumble strip
  • If you are feeling restless and irritable

At the Sleep Disorders Center, we're concerned primarily with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders, and we stand ready to help you to be your best when you're "on the road again."

While we'd like to help every driver on the road, we're particularly concerned about people who work long hours and have a long commute to and from their job; commercial drivers who feel fatigued by being required to drive for hours at a time without a break; business travelers who have to drive an unusually long distance to which they are not accustomed.

If you have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, engaging in any of the above-mentioned activities can have harmful, and sometimes fatal, consequences for you or those around you. It is imperative that you be tested and treated for any sleep disorder before a tragedy occurs.

We urge you to get the proper amount of rest every day so that when you get behind the wheel to drive, you can do so under the best possible circumstances. If you find that you're not getting enough sleep, or enough "good sleep," contact us about scheduling an overnight sleep study.

Sleepiness/fatigue can cause:

  • Impaired reaction time, vision and judgment
  • Problems with information processing and short-term memory
  • Decreased motivation, vigilance and performance
  • Increased aggressive behaviors and moodiness
Contact Information

Doug Harris

Yolanda Fleming