Stay Alert

Stay Alert

Wake up! You know who you are, just barely keeping your eyes open. Running on coffee and attitude. Security professional or not, you need to get enough sleep in order to keep yourself and other people safe. That’s especially important when you’re driving, which we need to think about as we head into the time of year when your sleep behavior is going to be tested.

I talk about sleep a lot, and I made sure that my book Rent-A-Cop Reboot mentioned how important it is to sleep. I want to talk about it again today, so you will have time to regulate your sleep behavior before Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 7th.

Before you know it, there will be more night hours, more people out during those hours, and more of them dressed so they’re hard to see. There may also be people behind the wheel who haven't done much night driving in a while because of the pandemic, so their skills aren't as sharp as they should be. You may be one of them.

Even if you work 9-5 you’re going to need to be attentive and alert, on the road and on the job. You can’t do that if you’re fighting your body’s natural need for sleep.

Drowsy driving is dangerous driving, certainly for teens and other less experienced drivers, but it can be avoided.

First, change your attitude. I know what it’s like to jump into the car when you’re tired but thinking you can still handle a long drive, a long shift, or both. Check out the video (above). You can’t, so stop. Regularly doing that without getting enough sleep will break the most talented professional. I know there were times when I wasn’t as alert as I should have been. I dozed off all day long, and I leaned on over-the-counter stimulants to help me stay awake. There were times when I was so tired that it hurt!

I was blessed, because my dangerously drowsy driving could have hurt someone. Or worse.

Second, get some sleep. If it’s been a while since you had at least 7 hours of sleep several nights in a row (or days if you work at night), change that. Figure out what you need to do differently so you can rest. At least commit to getting more sleep ahead of the time change. If you have trouble sleeping because of a health problem like sleep apnea, see a medical professional.

Third, keep your safe driving skills sharp. This includes knowing your drowsy driving behaviors (constant blinking, can’t remember the last few minutes, etc.) and planning to reach your destination by midnight when possible. Plus, don’t stay up late the week DST ends, avoid long and/or rural highways when you can, and slow down.

If you still wind up behind the wheel when you’re drowsy, take a break. I know you feel that push to reach your destination. But making time to stretch your legs or take a 20-minute nap could save your career, your life, or someone else’s.

Today’s sleep decisions affect your tomorrows.