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Due to my new job, I have to drive at least one hour each day after I finished working at night and I'm getting really tired while driving back home... I'm afraid I'll get hurt or cause an accident in the long term..

Is there anyone in the same situation?
How could you overcome this?

There is a solution which I could buy?

I have seen that newer cars can have a sort of driver monitoring system, does anyone have experience with these technologies?

  • "Is there a solution I could buy?" ... Yes, a bus ticket. I'm not sure isn't a mind-hack issue. – Chenmunka Apr 14 at 16:57
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I've not a lot to add to the other good answers, except for a few tips:

  • Don't eat a large amount before you set off on the return journey. Have a light snack of something that is has a reasonable amount of simple carbohydrates and is easy to digest (I.e. not half a bowl of pasta and leftover cheese steak subway from lunch!)
  • Don't underestimate how mentally taxing driving in rush hour is at the end of a long day on a job; it would be better to have an hour's nap in the car before you set off, miss the rush hour and be slightly more rested for what will be a quicker journey home (having missed more of the rush hour)
  • Use your car's climate control/air con and ensure that the recirc control is set to fresh air rather than recirculate - sitting in an atmosphere that has elevated level of humidity and carbon dioxide will make it more difficult to remain alert
  • It is better to have the air temperature slightly too cool than too warm
  • Stopping for a rest is better than falling asleep at the wheel and crashing the car
  • Finding something audio that really engages you is a good way to stay alert and awake. I used to listen to episodes of shows i'd watched (so I could easily picture the characters and even remember the visuals). Bland soothing background music had the opposite effect on me, but I used to find I could stay up til 2am watching sci fi when I was sat on the sofa and immersed in the show so I translated that to watching old episodes in the car
  • Sit slightly more upright than you do in other contexts

There is no substitute for being well rested, but ultimately you're trying to avoid recreating the conditions that exist when you go to sleep at home, and being full of food, warm, comfortable, reclined and relatively motionless is how most people go to sleep..

I'm sure you've experienced it at a meeting room or school desk - you eat lunch then half an hour later are sitting there in the warm room, not moving, listening to the teacher/accountant droning on.. And you nod off. This is what you should be trying to avoid in the car.

Recognize that there is a point of no return - if you're yawning, blinking or realize that you cannot remember anything you've seen in the past ten seconds on the road you have probably hit that point and are slipping into microsleep mode, a state where the brain behaves like it's asleep for a few seconds at a time (sufficiently long enough to crash the car). Stop immediately, and rest. No amount of sitting up, dancing it your seat, sticking your head out of the window, cranking heavy metal will wake you up; your brain is going to sleep and shaking yourself awake while continuing to pilot the car will bring temporary alertness at best.

Better late than never!

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I've been in the same situation for about five years, but haven't the budget to buy a new car with driver assist features -- it was all I could do to buy one with high enough fuel economy not to break me at the gas pump.

There is no lifehack to replace getting adequate sleep. There are a few basic things you can do to help ensure that you're rested each morning (which will, in turn, contribute to avoiding issues with alertness when you drive home).

First, either completely avoid caffeine, or else cut yourself off at least five hours before you expect to need to sleep (six or seven hours is better). This will both make it easier to fall asleep at night, and improve the quality of your sleep, so you'll be more rested after the same number of hours asleep.

Second, avoid "screen time" for at least an hour before bedtime. That includes TV, computer, tablets, phones, even digital camera viewscreens. If you can't avoid screen time (really?), there are applications for most operating systems that will filter the screen color to reduce the blue light that tells your brain it's time to be awake, but avoiding the screen also lets your mind relax, letting go of the stresses that go with using the computer or phone, or the stimulus that TV brings.

Third, ensure you have at least seven hours uninterrupted to sleep. Nearly every adult requires between seven and nine hours of actual sleep (not counting time in bed reading before sleep, etc.).

Fourth, avoid sleep aids of any kind. Even alcohol, though it may make it easier to fall asleep, degrades the quality of sleep by disrupting dream cycles and increasing the tendency to wake through the night. Most other sleep aids have similar, but greater effects: you'll sleep, but you won't rest as effectively.

If all of this still doesn't let you remain awake and alert for fifteen or sixteen consecutive hours, see if you can't work in a snort nap after lunch. This is a common social practice in a number of countries, though it's fallen out of favor in America.

If you're still having trouble staying awake for your drive home, see your doctor. There are a number of sleep disorders that you might have without knowing, ranging from the commonest (sleep apnea) to some really off the wall ones that, honestly, your doctor and a sleep specialist may still discount. Sleep apnea, however, is so common that modern medicine tends to assume everyone has it to some degree. There are non-drug treatments (usually involving either oral appliances to prevent airway collapse or a pressure breathing mask called CPAP) that will alleviate sleep apnea well enough to make a world of difference in sleep quality.

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The main enemies of drivers are:

  • alcohol;
  • insufficient rest / being tired or sleepy.

There is no hack for either of them. Either you are sober and rested, or you are a danger for yourself and for others.

The best solution in your case is to find a way, that you do not drive when you think "I'm afraid I'll get hurt or cause an accident".

Some things you can try. I do not assign them any priority or importance, you decide depending on your context.

  • change your overall schedule, to get more rest;
  • change your working hours;
  • use other means of transportation (taxi, bus, train...);
  • last resort: change the job.

There is a solution which I could buy? I have seen that newer cars can have a sort of driver monitoring system, does anyone have experience with these technologies?

As I said, there is no hack for being sober and rested, when you are not. Technology can compensate partially for the problem, but I would surely not trust my life to a box with wires.

Please stay alive and safe.

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