Your Driving and Fatigue: The Facts
Fatigue is often ranked as a major factor in causing road accidents although its contribution to individual cases is hard to measure. Your driving and fatigue is often not reported as a cause of the accident. Driver fatigue is particularly dangerous because one of the symptoms is decreased ability to judge our own level of tiredness.
More symptoms will include lack of motivation, long term tiredness, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, hand-to-eye coordination may be impaired, headaches, impaired judgment, indecisiveness, irritability, moodiness, there might be problems organizing thoughts and finding the right words to say, sleepiness, drowsiness, slower than normal reflexes and some vision problems such as blurriness.
It take concentration and awareness to be able to deal with all types of road situations, therefore it is easy to see why a person in this state might cause an accident or even be unable to avoid the accident due to poor concentration.
Firstly we need to identify what is fatigue, secondly what are the causes, and thirdly how to avoid fatigue as best possible to keep yourself and others safe on the road while driving.
1. What is fatigue?
Although physical and mental fatigue are different, the two often exist together – if a person is physically exhausted for long enough, they will also be mentally tired. Let`s go more into depth into physical and mental fatigue.
- Physical fatigue – a person`s muscles cannot do the things as easily as they used to. Examples include like climbing stairs or carrying bags may be much harder than before. This is also knows as lack of strength.
- Mental fatigue – concentrating on things becomes harder. In severe cases some people might not want to get out of bed in the morning, or do their daily activities. Mental fatigue may be life threatening especially if the person has to do a task, such as driving a car or operating heavy machinery.
2. What are the causes of fatigue?
The causes of fatigue are virtually endless. Causes are sometimes classified under several lifestyle problems. Causes includes:
- General – Grief, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anxiety, moving home, boredom and divorce.
- Stress – When stress levels become excessive, it can easily cause fatigue. Stress and worry are two emotions that commonly cause tiredness. Stress can reach a point in which the person is “unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel”, which leads to despair. Despair is draining and will eventually cause fatigue if it is present long enough. Not being in control of a situation can be frustrating, annoying and very tiring. Even if you have a baby in the house, and that baby wakes up a lot during the night, it can interfere with the parent`s sleep.
- Medication – Some antidepressants, steroids, antihistamines, sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs causes fatigue as well.
- Sleep problems – working till late at night, jet lag, sleep apnoea, insomnia are all causes of fatigue.
- Your Job – Even some jobs are a risk linked to fatigue examples are police, doctors, nurses, firefighters and shift workers.
- Chemicals and substances – Vitamin deficiencies, consuming too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks may make it harder to sleep, or stay awake when you drink them close to bedtime.
- Chronic pain – People with chronic pain typically wake up tired, even after having slept for a long time. For many pain disrupts their sleep, which also leaves them tired. The combination of disturbed sleep and having to endure persistent pain can be extremely draining, leaving the person exhausted for most of the time.
- Overweight and underweight – Overweight/obesity is a rapid growing problem. Obese people are much more likely to experience fatigue for a lot of reasons – having to carry a lot of weight is tiring, and obese people have a high risk of developing diseases and conditions where fatigue is the common symptom. Being underweight may mean there is less muscle strength, and very thin people may tire more easily.
3. How to avoid fatigue?
GET EFFECTIVE SLEEP
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Set your bedroom temperature (if possible) to a comfortable level. It must neither be too cold or too hot.
- Do not have your last meal of the day too close to bedtime – not less than 90min or 2 hours before you go to bed.
- As bedtime approaches, physically and mentally slow down. Have a warm bath or shower and listen to some soothing music. Clear you mind of stressful and worrying thoughts.
GOOD EATING AND DRINKING HABITS
- Eat 6 small meals throughout the day at the same time and following a well-balanced diet, your overall health will improve and so will your sleep patterns.
- If you are underweight, add more cabs to your diet, but make sure it is healthy ones. Example brown rice, rice cakes, couscous etc etc.
- If you are overweight/obese, follow a well-balanced diet and aim for a healthy body weight. You might want to consider visiting a nutritionist
- Do not crash-diet. Your sleep may be effected.
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages to the minimum.
LOTS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- A lot of people tend to think that if they exercise, they will be tired and be unable to accomplish daily tasks. It is actually the opposite. The more you exercise, the more energy you have to do things day in and day out. Remember that if you are unfit, you are more likely to feel tired. It is important that any physical activity is done properly and gradually. Regular exercisers sleep better and suffer much less from fatigue than other people.
There is an old quote that goes: “If you keep doing what you have always done, you will getting what you have always gotten”. So the point is change up some of your habits so that you are more equipped to deal with all types of driving conditions and situations. The decision is yours. Make it today.
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