According to the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) statistics, between 2011 and 2021, 1,305 fatalities happened on the road due to motorists falling asleep at the wheel.

The culprit behind this is known as microsleep - a temporary episode of sleep or drowsiness that lasts a few seconds, where an individual loses mental awareness and sensory perception to his/her surroundings.

So what is microsleep? The answer is simple - people experience microsleep when they are sleep deprived.

The symptoms of microsleep include difficulty in keeping one's eyes open, staring emptily into space, continuous yawning and sudden loss of reflexes/muscle control.

Below are some ways you can avoid this condition, especially when you are behind the wheel:

1) Get enough rest before a trip

You must get at least six to eight hours of sleep before you head out on a long road trip. Also avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine which may render you sleepless before a long journey.

2) Stay off medicines which can make you drowsy

There are many medicines out there, including cough mixtures that can make people drowsy. Avoid taking such medicines before you drive, but if you have to, do not drive.

3) Don't drive alone

If you are the type of person who easily gets bored or tired during long drives, consider taking a friend, preferably a chatty one, to accompany you during the trip.

4) Enjoy the music

What better time to listen to your favourite music than during a solo drive? Music can be a perfect accompaniment during long drives if you can't find anyone to follow you. However, when doing this, be careful to not tune the volume of the music too loud, that could disrupt your focus while driving.

5) Get rest where possible

Nowadays, the majority of highways are equipped with R&R (rest and relax) areas, or even petrol stations, where you can park your car for a while to catch a power nap.

6) Drink coffee

Do the complete opposite of what you did before the journey, now that you are already on the road. Caffeine can help you stay awake, but make sure you consume the beverage in moderation.

7) Wind down the windows

What better to stay awake then have the fresh wind blowing in your face? Wind down your car window for a while and breathe in the fresh air to refresh yourself, rather than being confined within the four walls with the air-conditioned air throughout your journey.

These are just some tips that may help you stay awake behind the wheel next time. Remember that life is precious, and its better to be safe than sorry.

Source:, NST
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