Travel Tip: After the Sun Goes Down You Will Get Tired Fast

Prior to the invention of modern lighting, most people’s lives revolved around the sun. The sun rising was our time to wake and it setting was our time to wind down and get some sleep. While our bodies are in tune with the sun, we’ve been able to create technology to get around this limitation. This has come in the form of artificial light, and modern society is built around it.

We’ve bypassed the need to stop what we’re doing when we no longer have sunlight. We’ve enabled ourselves to set our own scheduling. Modern life might have its own schedule irrespective of the sun, but your body does not. You will find yourself getting back to nature’s rhythms when you drive long distances. When the sun goes down, you will start to tire much faster. After a few hours of driving in darkness, you become exhausted and will need to stop for the night.

It is important to know this when working around your limits. It is also a factor in understanding what tolerance you have for fatigue. In Driver’s ED, I remember learning about between midnight and 4 am being the most dangerous time to drive. This is the time your body has the strongest urge to sleep.

Now you might think you can fight this with caffeine. Caffeine will certainly help, but you’re pushing yourself against your nature. Ultimately, nature will eventually win, so it’s best to lay off the caffeine later at night. For me, I have a personal rule that I really don’t drive after midnight unless I have to. I figure out a place to stop and try to get a good night’s rest. I’ll stop drinking caffeine sometime in the afternoon, so it’s mainly out of my system before I try to sleep.

You will want to keep in mind that your body wants to go to sleep after the sun goes down. This is especially important when driving long distances. You don’t want to drive more than a couple of hours in darkness if you don’t have to. Plans to stop for the night should be made around the sun setting. If you can do this, you’ll find you’ll be pushing yourself a lot less and will be well rested for the next day. Pushing yourself can be dangerous and create a risk you probably shouldn’t be taking.

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