10 Tips to Staying Awakewhen Touring
We are inclined to think that car drivers feeling sleepy when driving long distances, since they cloistered in a bubble, removed from the environment.
We tend to think that only car or truck drivers feel drowsy when they drive over long distances, but truth is, bikers do feel sleepy too.
Sleepiness results from a number of reasons including inadequate rest, lack of variation in the route, weather, dehydration, little in speed. Whatever the reason, here are a number of ways you can stay awake and alive.
The best way to combat fatigue is to stop and rest. Take a 10- to 15-minute nap to reset yourself. Do remember to store your belongings safely before you do so.
Dehydration is a major factor in causing drowsiness, what more in our hot and humid climate. Low electrolyte levels in the body causes certain functions to slow down, prompting the release of the sleep hormone called melatonin. It is the body telling you to rest.
So, make sure you drink plenty of fluids (best is water) prior to riding. Another method is to carry along a hydration pack, allowing you to drink while on the go and skip the stops.
3. Light exercises and stretching
You don’t have to perform the full routine– just a number of simple exercises like jumping jacks and stretches to promote blood flow to wake your brain and muscles.
You can also stretch your legs and arms (one at a time) while you’re on the bike.
4. Go early
Start your trip early, especially if you are one who always feels sleepy when the weather turns hot. Going early also means that your brain and body are at their peak, and energy levels are still high. Additionally, you don’t feel rushed therefore saving your energy and focus.
5. Positive thoughts!
There’s a saying that we should be mindful of our thoughts when we’re alone. Well, it works when you are riding, too. There’s no help if you keep focusing on your tiredness or boredom because you’re tiring yourself out subconsciously. One way is to keep thinking of the reward that awaits you when you arrive.
6. Light meals only
This is difficult for us Malaysians since we ride for the food we love. And those food usually contain lots of starch (rice), spices and oil, apart from the sugary drinks. The digestive system will have a hard time in digesting them, causing the body to pump more blood to those related organs. More blood equals more oxygen flow thus the brain is starved of it instead. Consequently, we feel sleepy.
Also, certain persons with diabetes or borderline diabetes will feel sleepy due to having too much sugar in their bloodstream (hyperglycemia).
So, stop eating before you’re full and look fresh fruits, instead.
7. Wear earplugs!
The majority of Malaysian bikers think of earplugs as something that will kill them. There are specialised earplugs such as the Alpine MotoSafe that block out harmful wind noise while allowing environmental sounds through. Wearing earplugs reduces fatigue.
Streaming your favourite music or radio station lets you entertain yourself, especially during droning on the boring highway. Sing out loud in your helmet if you feel bored or drowsy. The best way is through a Bluetooth communicator such as those from UClear as the speakers allow you to wear earplugs, as opposed to wearing earbuds. That way, you cut out the wind noise and still enjoying your music.
9. Open the visor
Full-face helmets can feel stuffy when you’re sleepy. Open the visor a little to allow for more airflow to the face. It’s good for those hot days.
10. Vary your route/speed
Riding along at the same speed for the last 200km will develop boredom and can result in sleepiness. Contrary to popular belief, you can still feel drowsy if you ride at high speeds – it’s the routine, not the speed. So, vary your speed: Increase speed if you’re riding slow, or decrease speed if you’re riding fast, followed by the opposite after several kilometres.
Another way is to switch to riding a different route for a while. If you’re on the highway, take the trunk road through a town or village, and vice-versa.
Just do anything to break the routine.