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387660 tn?1242600342

Falling Asleep while driving?

I started noticing a couple of years ago that I would fall asleep for a second while driving.  It escalated to a point that on a weekly long trip I needed to take that I would start falling asleep at the wheel many times and have had many close calls.    I finally had to give up on driving this trip and had to hire someone to drive me.   I don't believe I have sleep apnea as I sleep well, don't snore and get a full nights sleep.   This falling asleep at the wheel can happen at any time of the day.
Is there a medical reason for this?    I also have severe neck degeneration.  Could sometime be cutting off oxygen to my brain when I'm in this position?    I don't fall asleep at other times.  Just while I am driving.
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My great uncle used to have a huge problem with falling asleep at the wheel (he even wrecked on several occasions). He ended up finding out that his problems were due to medicines he was taking for other health problems. Are you on any medications?
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My great uncle used to have a huge problem with falling asleep at the wheel (he even wrecked on several occasions). He ended up finding out that his problems were due to medicines he was taking for other health problems. Are you on any medications?
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534785 tn?1329595808
That's great to hear! I'm glad the problem was discovered and fixed.

For everyone else's sake, narcolepsy doesn't always show up in an MSLT, and it can take several MSLTs before it will rear its ugly head. This may be due to the progression of the disease (i.e. since it tends to worsen with time, the likelihood it appears in study results increases), or a person's physiology (i.e. there are varying degrees of the disease).

Falling asleep at the wheel can be due to any number of things, however, including medications, sleep disorders, other illness (like CFS), and sleep deprivation.
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I am very relieved I am not alone here. I Have all of the same tendancies and Normally my best Solution is to call someone when I start feeling tired, but recently that stopped working, it has gotten to a point where I fall asleep at stop lights or I have to  pull over to sleep on my way to my destination. I have driven off the road & even worse I have been into an accident because I fell asleep and hit someone at a red light. the damage was minor and no one got hurt but I was terrified. I have only ever done this while driving alone, not while anyone was a passanger.....Its an awful feeling not being able to control the sleepiness. I also tend to get hot and sweeaty not in my face but at times it has made me motion sick.
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i hit the other car first time in my life. I do not know, what happened, when i heard the sound and then relized i hit the car because i slept for few seconds.
I thought it is my age, brain deterioration. After google, i found it is not age.
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180749 tn?1443598832
Follow this technique  while driving, to stay awake. This will expel the stale air from the lungs, and the brain will get more oxygen.
Kapalbhati pranayam  - Push air forcefully out through the nose about once per second. Stomach will itself go in(contract in). The breathing in(through the nose) will happen automatically. Establish a rhythm and do for 10 to 60 times, every few minutes, while driving. Not for pregnant women.  

The full set of exercises, described in my March 17, 2010 post, will help to reduce this sleepy problem over the long term and make you healthier.
January 11 ,2012
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2009855 tn?1327968805
I am 28 yr old female! 5'10" 160 lbs. I have two kids one is 6 months old. Married. Only when I'm driving or in a car do I feel like falling asleep. It doesn't happen rt away. Maybe 30 -45 into it. My eyes feel heavy n start to roll Bk. I have to blast my music or roll down my window but that doesn't seem to work too good. A few times I also had to call someone to keep me awake. I have coffee in the mornings to take my son to school hopeing that will keep me alert. But no! I have not totally fallin asleep. But I feel I'm pretty close. I'm worried about it now. N today when I woke up, my vision was off. U know the feeling after u spin around, when u try to walk, u wall at a slant? That's how my vision was this morning. It stayed this was for hrs so I didn't take my son to school. Afraid that something could go wrong n we could b in an accident. Also, my hair has been falling out more than usual if that was anything to do w it...idk?! I am getting insurance this weekend n will go c my doc. Will keep u guys updated. Hope u all feel well. Happy that I'm not a lot. But sad that this is going on w so many ppl. B safe!
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534785 tn?1329595808
If you're shedding a lot more hair than usual, it likely points to hypothyroidism. Be sure you mention this to your doctor so they can order the appropriate bloodwork. Hypothyroidism also causes brain fog and extreme fatigue, as well as low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness.
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I can sleep all night get up and drive two hrs later i start falling asleep yet being out of the truck i can stay up all day no problem. Have run test after test after test. Doc cant figure it out says maybe something with being in truck. It happens in my car too. What is this thing???
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all my grandma and siter ,brothers have died ,have cancer  as well as cousins died of tumors and momsside fibor both sisters severe grandpa died at 32 of cancer yet had almost same symphtoms. Changing the way you think--about yourself and your life---is essential to boosting self-esteem. Low self-esteem can negatively affect virtually every part of your life, including your health replace negative thoughts or inaccurate beliefs with more positive, realistic ones. Achieving a balanced, accurate view of yourself and accepting your value as a person can help you feel happier and more confident. Achieving healthy self-esteem you can over come this keep the faith. And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with aloud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked who was cripple from his mother's womb. His Faith helped him so can your faith help you if you have faith. (Acts 14:8-10)
Faith worked for me.
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I am trying to find out how it is possible to actually drive from 1 location to another and not know it?  I was in an accident were I was leaving from a graduation got on the highway to go home and ended up in another city were I had the accident and can't remember anything after getting on the highway.  HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE!!!!
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I too am afflicted with this. I am going to call my doctor as soon as I am done with this. I never knew it was so common. It scares me because it isn't just my life, other drivers and passengers in my car. I don't fall asleep while being a passenger, just while driving. I get plenty of sleep, it happens on long or short trips and during any time of the day. I have noticed lately that I fall asleep while standing if I am up in the night. That has never happened before either. The sleep-driving started about 3 yrs ago. I am 32 now. Good physical shape. I did add a lil weight starting 3 yrs ago. I am just glad to see that I am not alone and that others have this problem also. Things that help me are talking on the phone is the best. The only other thing I have found is sucking lollipops. Cuz you have to move them around and it works for me.
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I've had the falling-asleep-while-driving problem my entire life, and have tried everything over the years.  The only things that work are

  * DRINKING / SIPPING something.  I assume there is a strong animal instinct to not fall asleep while drinking & choke.  I keep my back seat stocked with several six-packs of gatorade at all times.

  * I just bought some SMELLING SALTS on amazon (about $4 for a 10-pack.)  Haven't tried them yet, but it seems like a effective last resort.
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I just had an accident hitting a truck from behind few days ago while driving and fell into sleep. I suffered drowsy driving these few months which didn't happen to me before. I guess getting old and less exercise contribute to this. After the accident I got my own tips and would like to share and hear your feedback.

First, try to sit almost upright (don't slant too much), and keep your head in the slight nod down position (feel like your nose is pointing down) with your eyes looking straight. The point is not raise your head too much that your behind neck is in compress mode, in that way I will find it more easy to stay alert and my mind can keep active thinking and don't drowse off. Maybe like that we don't compress the nerve at our neck, which I don't sure of.

Secondly, after the position is correct, think something interesting or issue that you want to solve, that will keep you stay alert.

Thirdly, be alert about your breathing pace. If you start to feel sleepy, you may notice you breath slowly and you should increase your breathing to make you alert. Wind down the windows to get good fresh air.

Fourthly, try to sing something and concisely try to listen and perfect what you sing, that will make you alert, or try to sing with a radio in concisely mode. Try to much sunflower seed also will help.

Finally, if you find that you eyes keep closing down. Then you should try purposely open your eyes wide and big for few seconds and blink hard for short period. Hope this will break off the lazy eyes routine.

Those tips help me and the first one is my own thought.
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Yup. I have been suffering from drowsy driving for years. Seems like it is getting worse. Happens on 20 minute trips, or longer. Here is what helps me....
1. Audio Books: If I find the story interesting, this works great.
2. Conversations with passengers. I don't get sleepy as a passenger. Talking to passengers helps, talking to myself DOES NOT....in fact, I slip into day-dream state if I talk to myself.
3. Facial exercises: Make the facial expressions when saying the sounds for "EEEE" and "OHHHH" with exaggerated lip motions. Not sure why, might be something about concentrating on the motions.
4. Gluteus clinch. Work out your butt/hamstring muscles in a rhythm. Like Left/Left/Right/Right/Both-hold -- repeat. These are large muscles and tend to get blood flowing.

I'm 44, male, 5'10", 170, decent health, can fall asleep in under 60 seconds every night. Typically wake up tired, not ready to rise. Testosterone levels are around 350. Otherwise all other health measures are really good. I do not work out and sit behind a computer 8-10 hours per day as an engineer.
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180749 tn?1443598832
You are not getting deep sleep, and are not fully rested when you get up.
Follow this technique twice a day, and you will notice your energy level improves in weeks.
Kapalbhati pranayam -(Do it before eating)
Build up your timing gradually.If you feel tired or dizzy, stop and resume after one minute.
Push air forcefully out through the nose about once per second. Stomach will itself go in(contract in). The breathing in(through the nose) will happen automatically. Establish a rhythm and do for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Children under 15 years – do 5 to 10 minutes twice a day.
Not for pregnant women. Seriously ill people do it gently.
April 19 ,2012
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OH MY GOD.... This is so my Daughter. I am so very SCARED for her,and too hoping to find some answer or help. She too has no insurance. I'm SCARED AS HELL I'm going to lose her. Like yourself she has tried every thing to keep her awake. The end result is so like yourself, calls me to keep her talking. There has even been times I've called her and that call woke her up veering into on coming traffic. PLEASE ANYONE HELP US. If you find out any thing would YOU PLEASE let me know. I will NOT GIVE UP searching for a solution. I will let you too know when I get answers. All my best to you. I now know shes not alone. Thanks for sharing.
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OH MY GOD.... This is so my Daughter. I am so very SCARED for her,and too hoping to find some answer or help. She too has no insurance. I'm SCARED AS HELL I'm going to lose her. Like yourself she has tried every thing to keep her awake. The end result is so like yourself, calls me to keep her talking. There has even been times I've called her and that call woke her up veering into on coming traffic. PLEASE ANYONE HELP US. If you find out any thing would YOU PLEASE let me know. I will NOT GIVE UP searching for a solution. I will let you too know when I get answers. All my best to you. I now know shes not alone. Thanks for sharing.
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I have a sleep-while-driving problem on long car journeys. I have found my own answer - caffein tablets (two at a time) plus energy drinks like Red Bull. I always carry both of these in the car. They always seem to work pretty quickly. Effect lasts more than an hour.
Symptoms of onset - difficulty focusing on traffic ahead, involuntary eye movements so vision becomes unstable, (moving up and down or side to side), a sense that sleep is only a few seconds away, inability to do anything about it by willpower alone or trying to distract myself eg radio, fresh air, shouting. Time for caffein and Red Bull. What a relief to know there is a solution to this very scary problem! (Hope it works for you).
clifford
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Sometimes when I drive I don't even remember how I got from one place to another.  Today I drove 1-1/2 hrs fighting falling asleep the whole way.  It doesn't happen all the time.  Sometimes I think it has to do with what I've eaten, but this time I can't think of anything that would have caused this since I was sleepy on the way there as well.  It is really scary!  I am beginning to be afraid to drive. I've had 3 sleep studies with the only finding as restless leg syndrome.  I do have chronic back problems and have been taking some aspirin the last few days.  I know I gain weight when I take aspirin or aleve.  Maybe it makes me drowsy too.  I am tired enough that if I were to sit still (as I do in the car) I would fall asleep.  I have stopped and slept a few minutes along the way.  I don't like this, but it is nice to know that I'm not alone.
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3221081 tn?1346040689
I'm nearly 50 and have been dealing with this my whole adult life.  When I was in college, I drove a taxi in the summer at a resort and would NEVER take a night shift because that's when it is worst.  Just three days ago when I was coming back from bringing my daughter to college, it happened over and over on the 100 mile drive.  I actually got lost somehow, in my own city, and have no idea how I got to where I was.  Things that have helped include avoiding high carbs.  They give me a boost for a few minutes but the crash is so huge.  I will bring pistachio nuts or beef jerkey to munch on along with a big unsweet tea.  The weirdest thing too is that if I pull over to sleep, I can't.  It's not a tired thing, it's like a trance or a hypnotic state.  Something else too, I fall asleep really quickly when I do lay down.  It's hard for me to sit on the sofa at night and watch TV because I doze right off (real sleep).  I usually read or play a word game before bed and usually last about 1-2 minutes before the book drops and I'm out.  The kids laugh because if I am tucking them in and laying beside them, I will fall asleep in the middle of a song or story.  I wonder why some researcher doesn't study this obvious phsiological issue.  Heck, they can "discover" it, cure it and name it after themselves!
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I experienced a frightening case of this both on Friday and again today on a big road trip with my kids in the rental car. It was terribly frightening! I don't remember having this so strongly and uncontrollably in our regular car. I'm beginning to think that the sleep problem in the rental car was caused by EMF: http://www.****.com/252/radiation-in-cars-practical-tips-on-how-to-minimize-it/

I do know that I have a sensitivity to other electronic devices, and especially wireless communication devices (although those symptoms are different). My hunch is that they are all related...
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Do you suffer from dyslexia or have you been checked for it and do you fall asleep when reading for a short while?
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I do have same issue of falling a sleep while driving for no reason.It almost makes me think this is some kind of hypnosis.
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I  have the same issue of falling a sleep while driving for no reason.It almost makes me think this is some kind of hypnosis.
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I struggle with the same things as a lot of people do in this forum. I am a 29 year old mostly healthy female with an hour commute to work. During that time I fall asleep several times per day, whether I have had enough sleep or not. The other day I found myself asleep, behind the wheel, stopped at a stop light.

My question is, does anyone think we could all be the victims of carbon monoxide poisoning in our vehicles perhaps? Tho my car is not old... I am considering this blood flow angle too... and like other people here the ONLY thing that has helped is talking on the phone while driving.
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I have the exact same issues for the last 2 yrs its gotten worse. I recently was diagnosed with a thyroid issue. And with further concern for the safety of my kids, I have been looking into why I fall asleep while driving, I found out that it may be just that HYPOTHYRIOD.
The following is an article I found that led me to looking into treatment...


Low Thyroid Function - Hypothyroidism
Pat Elliott, ND

Common Symptoms:

Fatigue, falling asleep during the day, excessive need for sleep, difficult to awaken, sleepiness after eating
Weakness, lightheadedness
Low pulse rate (below 80), low body temperature
Muscle and joint aches and pains
Low tolerance for temperature fluctuations, easily chilled or overheated
Cold hands and/or feet, poor circulation, Raynaud's phenomenon (fingers turn white when exposed to cold)
Pale skin, pale lips
Depression, decreased joy in living, lethargy, apathy, poor memory, difficult concentration
Irritability, mood swings, nervousness and anxiety
Un-coordination, sluggishness or "laziness"
Easy weight gain, difficult weight loss
Swelling in feet, puffiness around eyes on awakening
Sugar and other food cravings, hypoglycemia symptoms (weakness, shakiness and/or irritability before meals)
Dry skin, itchy skin, hives, acne, coarse or rough skin, eczema, psoriasis
Decrease in or lack of sweating
Brittle and slow growing hair and nails, dry hair, hair loss, loss of lateral eyebrows
Recurring or prolonged infections including: sinusitis, bronchitis/pneumonia, ear infections, tonsillitis, boils, vaginitis, bladder and kidney infections, and prostatitis
Poor wound healing, tendency for bruising
Elevated cholesterol and/or triglycerides in the blood, atherosclerosis, angina, heart attack, palpitations
High or very low blood pressure
Low libido, infertility, repeated miscarriage
Menstrual disturbances including: early or late starting age, painful periods, long or short cycles, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, bleeding lasting greater than 5 days, PMS, endometrial hyperplasia, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts
Constipation, indigestion, loss of appetite in the morning
Abnormal sensation in throat or upon swallowing
Hoarseness of voice
Allergies, asthma
Difficult breathing
Insomnia
Carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve entrapment symptoms (burning/tingling), hands or feet falling asleep
Migraine and other headaches
Poor hearing
Decline in health following a pregnancy
Family history of any of the above disorders

Diagnosis - Although cases of severe hypothyroidism can usually be diagnosed using standard laboratory testing of thyroid function, most mild and many moderate cases of hypothyroidism are only identified using clinical assessment of symptoms by a physician experienced in identifying patients with hidden hypothyroidism.  

Treatment - Recognition and proper daily treatment of low thyroid function using thyroid hormone replacement therapy will result in resolution of deficiency symptoms usually beginning within the first month of therapy and reaching a maximum at 6-12 months of treatment.  In most cases the therapy is continued for life.

Hypothyroidism Resources:

Thyroid Books:
Living Well with Hypothyroidism by Mary Shomon
Solved:  The Riddle of Illness by Stephen Langer, MD & James F Scheer
Hypothyroidism:  The Unsuspected Illness by Broda O. Barnes, MD & Lawrence Galton
The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem, MD

Thyroid Websites:
thyroid.about.com
http://www.altsupportthyroid.org/index.php
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Billydude...I know you said you have resolved your issues, can you possibly tell us what medications you were taking that was causing your problems?  I too have the same symptoms and know it didn't start until the dr put me on paxil.  She insisted that it could not be the cause.  After me driving them nuts they switched me to pristiq.  I thought it had helped but all the symptoms are slowly coming back.  Just wondering if it has something to do with antidepressants in general....although this never happened when I was taking fluoxetine.
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This has happened to me on and off for years, but it has usually centered around a change in my depression medication (which has not happened lately).  I did (in December) have my 3rd cervical spine surgery, which still has not healed well.  4 weeks ago, I started having these "falling asleep behind the wheel" symptoms, but then I got sick and was out of work for a week, went back for 2 days but due to construction had to work from home the last 3 days of last week.  This week, I went back to work and it started all over again.  Monday, I was just exhausted and managed to make it home before I crashed on the sofa.  By Wednesday, I almost ran off the road 3 times (at least that's how many times I got honked at).  Yesterday, I was halfway home before I began falling out.  At least once, I woke up just in time to not eat the backend of the car in front of me.  I have no idea how I got home but, what I'm estimating to be about an hour after I got home, my son-in-law found me in my car completely passed out.  The car was still on and my foot was on the break pedal.  Thank God the car was in park.  What I found out was that it took him more than 15 minutes to rouse me.  He first tried calling my cell - which goes through the Bluetooth on my car and is so loud it would wake the dead (apparently not).  Then he said he came out to the car, opened the door and repeatedly called my name - louder each time.  He said it took a good 2-3 minutes of shaking me before I began to respond at all.  When I "came to" I was shaking so violently it took another 5 minutes or more before I could get out of the car.  When I did, I managed to make it upstairs and fell onto my bed, where I immediately passed out again for another 2 1/2 hours.  I have been an insomniac for more than 15 years, and take meds for that so I'm adjusted enough to know that isn't the problem.  I have lost a tremendous amount of weight because I changed my diet and am eating healthier and that has not affected me - except to give me MORE energy.  I do a fairly physical job, but nothing like lifting 50lbs all day.  Since the surgery I'm not back up to my usual work standards, but that is not unusual.  As tired as I have been, I have never experienced what I experienced yesterday and after seeing my surgeon today I have been "grounded" and am not allowed to drive (which means I also can't go to work) until this can be solved.  He's ordered blood work and a trip to my regular physician.  All I know is I'm frustrated and terrified.  I'm just glad to see I'm not alone.
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It's not Narcolepsy.  I think he suffers from Harlequin Syndrome.  Half my face turns red and I too have abnormal sweating.  He could also have that with Horner's Syndrome or Holmes- Adie Syndrome.
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Thank you!!!!! :)
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I am curious, Did you end up having the vasovagal syncope? Did they give you anything to help you with it? I have the same symptoms and it scares me.
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I have the same issue. It does feels so much like i'm in a trans. My eyes are usually open when this happens but It's hard to shake off the sleepy feeling. Like I am trapped in this trans. Idk what it could be but it scares me. I hope they figure it out too. I was wondering if it had anything to do with being a diabetic, because I remember years back I was driving and I saw this man rearend this old lady, I got out of my car fuming mad,I didn't realize that he had some kind of diabetic issue and that that was why he had hit her. I was just worried that he had hit the poor lil old lady. When the police came to write the accident up,it came out somehow that he had diabetes. Just a thought. He was wide awake too,and he did look like he was in a trans, I thought he must have been on drugs or something. Now I realize you don't have to be on drugs that there is other underlying conditions that can cause you to zone out or fall asleep at the wheel.
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That's what is was for me.  CO poisoning (carbon monoxide).

I realized this when I rented a car while on a business trip and
wasn't getting tired after driving for 3 hours.

My car's converter was slowly getting blocked up.  It's gone now
(not the converter, the ENTIRE car :-)
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I'm glad I'm not alone on this. I too have this problem. I have been falling asleep in the car as a passenger since I was a child, and now as an adult, it happens constantly, whether I'm a passenger or the driver. I've tried everything, from loud music, windows and top down, slapping my face, yelling and dancing around, snacking and drinking a cold beverage, and finally calling someone to chat and keep me awake. Just today, it got so bad, I decided to pour cold water down my shirt with the ac blasting. I need some answers and some help so I don't do this anymore. I hate the thought of me risking my life, a stranger's life, or worst of all, the lives of my 2 young children.
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I'm in the group that feels like it's a trance or hypnotic state, and I've heard that when driving at highway speeds around 55-60 MPH the highway lines can, in fact, have a hypnotic effect.  I've never actually fallen asleep, but sometimes feel like I'm about to. My arms will sometimes also get very tense when this feeling comes on.  
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Hi all,
I came across this forum while I was looking for answers to the same problem I had. I couldnt keep my eyes open while driving to work (30-35 mins on hwy). This was irrespective of whether I had a good night's sleep or not. I am happy to report that my problem is solved. (at least 2 weeks - so far)

Vit D deficiency causes day time sleepiness and fatigue. There are many articles on the internet about this:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201301/vitamin-d-deficiency-and-daytime-sleepiness

I was taking Vitamin D supplements in winter. I stopped it as it was summer. But that was the culprit. I went back on the supplement and for two weeks, I havent had drowsiness while driving. Never used to have this issue before until this summer, but I guess the Vit D deficiency may have been getting worse. Ask your doctor to check your Vit D levels!

Thanks
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I honestly thought I has serious issues. Well we obv all have the same serious issue haha but I'm glad I'm not alone.

Not sure when exactly this all started but I've always been able to function off of 2-4 hours of sleep EVERYNIGHT and be fine. I'm 21/female healthy and active 5'4" 128lbs excercise almost daily. It's been about over a year now that I realized I fall asleep faster while driving than in my own comfy bed. I don't have trouble falling asleep in bed at night at all. I do not take any medications. I use to drive to the casino (a couple years ago age 19) and back often and pull all nighters and remember SOMETIMES falling asleep at the wheel but that was because I pulled an all nighter and the drive was about 1.5-2 hrs. Now for the past year/year and a half I've noticed that a simple 20min ride would put me to sleep. I've tried the loud music, ac blast, windows down, calling people, pinching/slapping myself, switching lanes constantly but nothing would work I would still be dozing off UNTIL I realize I am getting too close to the car in front of me/ when i swerving into other lanes then I wake up.

Recently I left my first job to go to my second job and was falling asleep after being on the road for 15mins I decided to call my mom to chat and I told her what was happening and as I was talking to her and listening to her I was still falling asleep and woke up when I realized I was about to rear end a person on the highway in the far left lane (the fast lane).

I could be well rested (6-8hrs of sleep) get into the car feeling like I could run 5miles and drive for 20 mins and start dozing off.

This happens at any time of the day or night. It could be a beautiful sunny day like others have mentioned and I'd stil doze off with the sun shining brightly in my face.

I don't watch tv either (don't have the time and not home long enough to watch tv) but when I watched movies in the theatre in the past I would always fall asleep and slightly snore and the person I'd be with would realize I'm fast asleep haha

have not gone to the doctors for this yet but I am considering it
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I know what your going through I also have the same problem . Ususally  within a half hr. I am fighting to stay awake and have had a few close calls..I pull over now and take a 5 min. break,then on my way again.It doesn't mean it has stopped..within a half hr. it will creep up on me again and it is worse when it is sunny out. So far there is no explanation why this happens and I have had numerous tests done . This only happens when I am driving.
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I sympathize with your situation. It sounds much like me. I have only found one thing that is helpful other than pulling over and doing 5 minutes or so of Transcendental Meditation, which actually revives me for several hours. However, I am time bound in my driving and can't usually afford to stop even though I should just quit driving. What does help, though, is pain. If I feel myself nodding off I grab a soft piece of skin or muscle and drive one of my finger nails in for a hard long pinch. Usually, I do it on my thigh or behind my knee, so I have my driving arm free. That along with actively telling my brain to stay awake, that I know what you're up too, helps me stay awake for up to an hour of driving. I don't recommend it for everyone, but it works for me...especially the meditation when I can get off the road. It's amazing.  
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I agree with the pain thing.  I've tried screaming singing talking yelling and the only thing that helps is intense flossing. I use those little flosser picks and the pain to my gums snaps me out of it.
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Hello everyone, I am 48 yrs old and have been fighting this problem since I started driving. I now take prescription drugs for ADHD when I drive to keep me alive, I fight sleep after 15 minutes of driving, if I switch with my girlfriend I am wide awake in passenger seat. It really pisses me off. I have been tested for sleep apnea, mild. Neurological tests all normal. I have quit looking for the answer and just take my meds, however, after taking meds for some time they no longer work as well, and now the doctors say the rules have changed and I need to be evaluated before refilling, this is a problem. I drive 3 hours a day commute, if I don't have any meds after reevaluation I am going to wreck my car and possibly hurt someone or die, I have a really good paying job and there is no poss of this closer to my home and I cannot just move, what will happen, don't know.
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I read your comments , I am a MARINE WITH 33yds in ... I fall asleep here In United States in Houston went driving my Dad an Mam... afternoon!    The one thing I know  is the food! went in Philippines never fall asleep with little sleep same goes for Iraq, Japan, Russia, name it I been there, so I had the VA  , lab check the food I was eating , like the eggs , bread , steak , even the vegetables an fruits .  etc.   it took a lot of arm twisting ,because of my rank E*8..... one common denominator was  the slat an some ingredient    call carboengic lab did not want to help in spelling also   made by MAN;   its found in all the thing s we eat an drink .. the only purpose that I question to the Doc an Lab why,, to keep are food to last as long as possible an kill bacteria which is the good bacteria that keeps us heatedly, so I try to eat what man does not make , no sugars at all eat a lemon before I drive here, I grow my own or no some that does  an my parent live in the middle of Houston with chickens an etc. I don't want the one that are making a profit on ME ,,  
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13521279 tn?1430322958
As others have said, it's refreshing to see I'm not alone.  I've been falling asleep during the day for years, but I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.  I had bilateral jaw and chin advancement a few years ago and my sleep has vastly improved.  I now wake up rested and awake rather than still sleeping and needing to stay in bed.  I do, however, still fall asleep if I'm sitting still and not engaged (in a meeting, someone talking to me, and of course, driving).  People ask me if its scaring falling asleep when I drive.  I tell them not at all, it's actually peaceful.  The waking up while driving, that's the scary part!  I usually feel my head falling back to the headrest and my foot falls back off the gas and I'm going at a snail's pace on a busy highway.  Not good.  There have been rare occasions where I've accelerated and woke up in time to brake before hitting the car right in front of me.  Worse.  I do have some of the symptoms outlined by MeLeea; the carpal tunnel, depression, weight gain, laziness, poor wound healing, low libido, weird menstrual cycle, etc. Guess it's time to be a guinea pig for the doctors again.  Took a bunch of tests years ago before they found the sleep apnea.  At that time my thyroid was okay, guess we'll see now.  Glad to have found this thread.  Good luck to all.
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I am experiencing this now. It is very scary... I drive my children to school 45-55 minutes one way and fight all I have to make my eyes stay open. I end up pulling over for 45 minutes (setting the alarm on my phone) because I am afraid I won't be able to drive back home. I am scheduled for a sleep study next month. Have you found anything out with the issue that we both share?
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Sounds like narcolepsy to me. (I'm narcoleptic, have been all my life, also have hallucinations, and can see and hear what is happening while i'm asleep. Tried driving for a couple of years when I was in early 30's, but crashed every day - as I was living on a farm, luckily it was usually into a log or a fence or a ditch or a gate, never killed anyone...) After writing two cars off (terrible hallucinations, then rolled the car) - told to stop driving. Had tests, told I was a severe narcoleptic. Haven't driven since. Life is severely curtailed - can't go anywhere much, can't hold down a job, can't maintain a relationship etc etc......
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Hello,

Thank GOD! I am not alone!I have been reading these comments and am finding alot of similarities as well as differences in what I am experiencing.

I nod off while driving. I play techno, reggae, dancehall, rap, rock...whatever and I'll still get drowsy...I open the windows, crank the A/C, pinch and slap myself, shake my head, yell....nothing works. I have tried talking on the phone and sometimes that works but lately it still hasn't helped me.

I don't fall asleep when I'm sitting still, I can sit and read for hours, watch a movie, work on the computer, etc. But something about the driving process/position triggers this "condition". I have been known to have some insomnia (although I have never been clinically diagnosed)...I am a creative person and I love the late hours of the night/early morning...when no one bothers me and I can work and be creative. However sometimes I can't be like that, and get enough sleep, because of work and other life responsibilities.

I am 28 yrs old, white female, 5'5" and 135 lbs. I do not smoke, I do drink wine daily, but have great health otherwise. I have a very strong heart and lungs and give blood often. My diet is extremely clean (besides the occasional burger or cheat meal) I eat alot of salmon, veggies, bone broth, don't drink soda and rarely have coffee or energy drinks.

I have noticed an onset "aura"...it's like I have this feeling of a dimmer switch (like for the lights) and then my body gets sort of numb/tingly but only for a split second, and then I either nod off or shake myself so I snap out of it. I also feel like my eyes are rolling back in my head.

It doesn't matter if I've had coffee, soda with caffeine or energy drinks. The only thing that seems to snap me out of it is adrenaline, like when I almost crash and it scares the S*#! out of me!!! I would never forgive myself if I hurt someone!!!

Part of my job involves driving brand new cars for a marketing company and I am scared that I will get my license taken away or be restricted to not be able to drive, therefore not be able to support myself in the way I have become accustomed to living.

Somebody please help, I have no family history of heart disease, sleep apnea or narcolepsy.

****I did have a random gran mal seizure 4 yrs ago out of the blue, I had every test under the sun done and the test results were non-conclusive. I do not, and have never done any recreational drugs and do not take any prescription meds beside alprazolam for anxiety (0.5 mg/day) and welbutrin (100mg/day) as well as birth control.
   I have quite a high level of stress, so I don't know if that effects this situation in any way. I have PTSD from domestic violence and assault, but I have seen counselors and do practice regular exercise and meditation.

   I am hoping to find a good lead on how to find out what is going on with me...I am scared I will hurt myself or someone else or lose my job.

If anyone has these localized symptoms (i.e. w/o obesity, high blood pressure, narcolepsy, thyroid issues, etc.) please let me know. I am at my wit's end!!!
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I have similar. I can't stay awake driving past 20 minutes. I've tried all the same things, nothing helps. I had kidney stones and when I had them removed I told dr of sleep issue. He said the two are linked and I have hyperparathyroidism...?? Has anyone else heard of or even know anything about this??
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This thread has been posted for 8 friggin years now.  Where's all the "doctors" that the name "medhelp.org" implies would be here answering questions?  Dozens of people have been chiming in, falling asleep while in control of potentiallybdeadlybweapons; it's an issue.  Do people need to start moving down pedestrians before the medical community takes this seriously?  You, as doctors, could positively impact the world by discovering the answer(s) to questions like this; that's what you became a doctor for, right?  The rest of you, nodding off and waking up about to grind your cars into stuff, please devise strategies to deal with this issue until the medical community pitches in beyond playing music, keeping uour windows open, and hitting yourself.  If it takes "25 minutes of driving, then I fall asleep" then STOP your vehicle every 24 minutes and hang out for a couple minutes, then drive again; we can all agree that leapfrogging your car is preferable to killing a parent crossing the street with a baby in a stroller, or a minivan full of soccer kids on the highway, correct?  Knowing you have an issue that could result in your own death or the death of others, and doing nothing to mitigate is being an irresponsible adult and a bad citizen.  If you don't have a mind for strategy, strategize with loved ones; I'm SURE they'd rather have a strange conversation with you than lose
you for the rest of their lives.  All of you, please help yourselves and the people you drive by and with every day you're out there.  I wish you all luck and success in this; may God or whatever you believe in be with you.
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Hmm...no edit button.  Oh well, please ignore the typos (and "moving" instead of the intended "mowing"), I'll edit any future posts in-full.
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I too have become VERY concerned about this problem which occurs after 30 minutes of driving at highway speeds in particular. It also feels like Im being hypnotized by the oncoming lane lines. My eyes get very heavy and I have difficulty focusing. Then they just close while I'm driving.

Last year I actually did nod off completely on a two line highway and awoke suddenly to the bang of the right front tire blowing it s it slammed into the curb; I narrowly missed the guard rail just behind it. Scared me a lot.

This occurs almost all the time I travel at speed for more than 30 minutes - never in local stop and go traffic. I now stop regularly at exits for convenience stores to get coffee and several bottles of 5 hour energy;while these help, they only increase the interval between the events.

Yesterday when this occurred I pulled off at the next exit, stopped in a parking lot, immediately dozing off for a good 45 minutes. When I awoke I was fine to finish the journey of another hour.

I have excellent blood pressure but do take the blood-thinner warfarin for blood clots; I have been hospitalized twice for pulmonary embolisms;.I also wear compression socks to increase circulation. Otherwise I'm fine.

Other than avoiding 30+minute trips on the highway, pulling over and falling asleep for a bit has been the only solution; Stimulants work but only for an hour or so.

Since these posts show many share the problem and there seems to be no agreed-upon solution, the only suggestion I can make is to be aware when this starts coming on - and immediately get off the road and nap.
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I have the same problem too. Last year June I fall asleep on the wheel without any signs of tiredress and when I woke I already driving on the ditch. I tried to push the break hard but instead my car didn't stop and it flew over about 70 yards. When I was in the hospital my husband told me I hit an approach. I broke my L1 and out of work for about 8 months. What I've learned now, everytime I feel like I'm sleepy I have to find an approach on the way home and get off my car and just have fresh air and I'm ok. It is a terrible feeling and scary too. Probably, I will not driving during winter.
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Same story here; driving with the window down, stereo up loud, squinting with one eye closed, trying to focus on avoiding oncoming traffic... (I never fell asleep though)

TL;DR
Through consciously breathing deeply, I think I may have beaten this!

The longer version:

While driving in this state, it got me thinking that perhaps this was an issue with a lack of oxygen to the brain. I was already aware of breathing exercises from yoga, so I gave it a go. (This was before I read this thread and saw the post from @hava)

So while in this concrete-eyelided stupor, I gave it a go. The result was astounding! Although I was now feeling dizzy and a headache starting to pound, I could see clearly and I felt awake. This was a huge improvement!

1.5 hours later at my destination, I hunted out this thread and read all 130 posts. On the return trip, further inspired by @hava, I began consciously breathing deeply and slowly. Another 1.5 hours later and no incidents of tiredness! Maybe it's too early to call it but it seems this is the cure!

My guess is that perhaps in a relaxed (and bored) state of driving, my natural breathing cadence is insufficient to retain sufficient oxygen saturation in the blood for concentration. I get the same thing when reading too.

I'd love to hear any other success stories. I've been struggling with this for a decade or two but now I look forward to long road trips again :-)
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