SharpDrive have observed that while it is difficult to objectively measure and quantify, the symptoms of fatigue typically fall under three categories:
Physical: sleepiness, yawning, loss of appetite, heavy eyelids, micro-sleeps and even accidental and unnoticed periods of sleep that can last anywhere from 1 to 30 seconds.
Mental: difficulty in focusing, slowed reaction times, forgetfulness, poor recall, impaired logic and uncharacteristic risk taking.
Emotional: feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability and moodiness.
Obviously, the possiblity of any of these occurring while you are driving a car could be fatal, and SharpDrive suggest a number of steps that can be taken to manage fatigue while driviing, beginning with getting enough high-quality sleep: The average person needs 7-9 hours each night, or within a 24-hour period, and the best quality sleep is obtained in a single block and ideally as much as possible before midnight.
Similarly, they suggest you should avoid stimulants. Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine all impact your ability to get a high-quality sleep. Alcohol and caffeine are also both diuretics, which means they flush water from your system, increasing the chance of wakefulness with needing to use the toilet as well as dehydration.
They also advise that proper nutrition and exercise go a long way in combating fatigue and stress, and a good, healthy diet and exercise will provide you with the energy you need to get through the day. However, if you feel your eyelids getting heavy, you must pull over in a safe parking space and take a nap. If required, take a 15-20 minute power nap, but not longer as this can make you more tired, so set your alarm.
Finally, ensure you think ahead about what is coming up in your schedule (both personal and at work) and consider how long distance driving may affect your energy levels. When we manage our energy and levels of tiredness both at home and at work, the risk of fatigue-related incidents are significantly reduced.