What Foods Prevent Sleep While Driving? [A Simple Guide]

If you’re planning a long driving trip, it’s important to know the types of foods that can prevent you from sleeping while driving.

A lack of sleep can lead to slower reaction times and an increased risk of accidents on the road. We will discuss six types of food that could affect your sleep while driving, including caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, sugary and high-glycemic-index foods, fatty foods, and processed foods.

We will also cover tips to ensure you get enough sleep, what to do if you have eaten something that prevents sleep while driving, and how food affects sleep. Read on to ensure that you stay safe and well-rested while driving.

What Foods Prevent Sleep While Driving

6 Foods Prevent Sleep While Driving

6 Foods Prevent Sleep While Driving

Certain foods can cause drowsiness and increase the risk of falling asleep while driving. Foods high in sugar and with a high glycemic index can cause a crash in blood sugar levels, leading to lethargy and drowsiness. Caffeinated beverages should also be avoided, as caffeine can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Spicy, fatty, and highly processed foods can interfere with sleep and should be avoided. Eating a snack before driving that is low in sugar and carbohydrates can prevent a sugar or carb crash and keep you more alert. Instead, opt for foods high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber, promoting better sleep while driving. Taking care of what you eat before driving can be advantageous for a safer driving experience.

1. Caffeine


Several foods and drinks can prevent sleep while driving, including caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can affect sleep quality and lead to drowsiness while on the road. Limiting caffeine intake to less than 400mg per day is recommended, as consuming more can cause insomnia and prolong the time it takes to fall asleep.

Additionally, caffeine can increase wakefulness and arousal, making it difficult to focus on driving. It’s important to note that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, resulting in impaired attention, coordination, slower reaction times, and poor judgment. As such, the CDC recommends abstaining from alcohol before bedtime as it can also disrupt sleep quality.

2. Alcohol


When driving, being alert and focused on the road is important. Certain foods and substances can cause drowsiness, making staying awake while behind the wheel difficult. Alcohol is one of the main culprits, as it can impair judgment and lead to drowsiness. Certain medications such as sleeping pills, narcotics, and muscle relaxants can also cause drowsiness and potentially impair driving ability.

To prevent drowsiness while driving, it is recommended to abstain from alcohol before bedtime and to be aware of the potential side effects of any medication taken. Driving with caution during peak sleepiness periods is important to ensure safety on the road. By being mindful of what foods and substances can affect alertness, drivers can take steps to prevent drowsiness and stay safe while driving.

3. Spicy Foods

Spicy Foods

Among the foods that can prevent sleep while driving, spicy foods cause sleep disturbances for various reasons. Eating spicy foods close to bedtime may result in indigestion and heartburn, making it hard to fall asleep. Spicy foods can also increase body temperature, making falling and staying asleep difficult. Additionally, spicy foods are popular to cause acid reflux which can worsen sleep apnea. A condition where an individual’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.

Moreover, eating spicy foods can cause an individual to feel warm, making it difficult to get cool enough to fall asleep. Finally, eating while driving can cause a sugar or carb crash, increasing drowsiness and leading to dangerous situations. Therefore, it’s best to avoid eating spicy foods before driving or going to bed to ensure a good night’s sleep and avoid the risk of drowsiness while driving.

4. Sugary And High Glycemic Index Foods

Sugary And High Glycemic Index Foods

Certain foods can prevent sleep while driving, and sugary and high glycemic index foods are among them. This is because consuming these foods may cause a spike in blood sugar, releasing hormones that can negatively impact sleep. High GI foods can also contribute to insomnia and increase inflammation. Eating too many of these foods close to bedtime may lead to difficulty staying asleep, and eating them while driving can cause a sugar or carb crash, leading to drowsiness.

A 2019 study found that following a high glycemic diet was associated with higher odds of insomnia. Therefore, it is important to be conscious of the types of foods you consume before driving, particularly if you plan to be on the road for an extended period. Opt for healthier, low-GI foods like whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and lean protein to help keep you alert and focused while driving.

5. Fatty Foods

Fatty Foods

Certain foods can negatively affect sleep quality and duration while driving, increasing the risk of drowsy driving. Fatty foods can negatively affect sleep quality, leading to lighter, less restorative sleep. Diets high in saturated fat have also been linked to decreased sleep quality.

In addition to fatty foods, high glycemic diets, and diets rich in added sugars can trigger insomnia and difficulty staying asleep. Conversely, low blood sugar may reduce sleep efficiency. It is also important to avoid drinking and driving, as alcohol reduces the driving ability and worsens tiredness. Making smart choices about what you eat and drink can help prevent sleep while driving and stay safe on the road.

6. Processed Foods

Processed Foods

Processed foods often contain high levels of added sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates – all of which can lead to a sugar or carb crash, making you drowsy while driving. These foods can also negatively impact sleep quality and increase the risk of insomnia. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to help you stay alert and focused behind the wheel.

How To Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep While Driving?

How To Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep While Driving

Getting enough sleep before a long drive is key to preventing drowsy driving. Adults should aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night. If taking a road trip, plan to take regular breaks for meals and naps. During the drive, adjust the car settings to keep you alert, such as increasing the temperature or playing music.

Wearing sunglasses during daytime driving can also help reduce eye fatigue. Lastly, keeping the car well-ventilated can help you stay awake and refreshed and prevent sleep while driving. It is important to prioritize safety and avoid driving if you feel drowsy.

What To Do If You Have Food That Prevents Sleep While Driving?

What To Do If You Have Food That Prevents Sleep While Driving

Suppose you are going on a long drive; avoiding foods that prevent sleep while driving is essential. The level of vigilance and attention required for safe driving is significantly affected by drowsiness. To avoid drowsiness, avoid driving late at night, especially between midnight and 6 am, as your body is naturally programmed to be asleep. Also, ensure you get enough sleep before a long drive to avoid sleep debt.

Regular breaks to eat, move around and stretch allow your muscles to relax and recover. Avoid consuming alcohol before or during the drive as it worsens tiredness and reduces driving ability. If you experience sudden sleepiness while driving, take a 20-minute nap and drink coffee or two. However, don’t rely on caffeine to stay awake for the long haul. Instead, aim to provide your body with the water, food, and rest it needs to maintain your focus while driving.

Tips To Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep While Driving

Tips To Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep While Driving

Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep before the trip to ensure you’re well-rested before a long drive. During the drive, take regular breaks to stretch and eat. It is vital to avoid alcohol and medications that can induce sleep. Though coffee or energy drinks can help you stay alert, they cannot be relied upon as a long-term solution.

Be cautious about driving between 12 am and 6 am, when drowsiness-related accidents are most common. Fatigue affects judgment, performance, and reaction time, so if you’re feeling drowsy, pull over in a safe space and nap. By adhering to these simple tips, you can ensure that you’re alert and focused while driving.

How Food Affects Sleep While Driving

How Food Affects Sleep While Driving

The food we eat before driving can significantly impact our alertness and level of concentration. Foods high in sugars or carbs can cause crashes, leading to drowsiness. Consuming food with a high glycemic index can lead to insomnia and difficulty staying asleep, making it harder to drive alertly. Studies have shown that consuming food high in sugar close to bedtime can lead to difficulty staying asleep, impacting the quality and quantity of sleep drivers get.

Eating while driving can also lead to complications such as sugar or carb crashes or slow reaction times, impairing coordination and attention. Drowsy driving due to food affects decision-making, attention, coordination, and reaction time – all critical factors in safely operating a vehicle. It’s always best to avoid eating heavy, greasy, or sugary food before driving. Instead, opt for lighter snacks or meals with high protein levels that could improve concentration and mental alertness.


In conclusion, the foods that prevent sleep while driving can cause dangerous fatigue, drowsiness, and reduced reaction times. Consuming such foods can put not only your life at risk but those around you as well. It’s important to avoid foods high in caffeine and alcohol, spicy, high glycemic index, fatty, and processed foods before driving long distances.

Make sure to prioritize getting enough sleep before hitting the road and take breaks whenever you feel tired. If you have eaten food preventing sleep while driving, pull over in a safe spot and nap. Your safety and the safety of others on the road should always come first. Remember, a few precautions can help you enjoy long drives without mishaps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Foods Keep You Awake For Long Drives?

Foods that can help keep you awake during long drives include high-protein foods like nuts, seeds, and jerky and foods containing caffeine like coffee and tea. Dark chocolate can also provide a small boost of caffeine and theobromine. Avoid heavy or greasy foods that make you feel sluggish and tired while driving.

Can Caffeine Or Other Stimulants Prevent Drowsiness While Driving?

While caffeine and other stimulants can temporarily relieve drowsiness, they are not a reliable solution for staying alert while driving. It is important to prioritize getting adequate sleep before driving, take breaks every few hours to stretch and rest, and avoid driving when you normally fall asleep.

How Long Before Driving Should I Avoid Consuming Foods That May Cause Drowsiness?

It is recommended to avoid consuming foods that may cause drowsiness for at least 2-3 hours before driving. This can help minimize the risk of feeling tired or sleepy while behind the wheel, which could lead to accidents or other dangerous situations.

Are There Any Foods That Can Help Keep Me Alert While Driving?

Yes, several foods can help keep you alert while driving. Snacks high in protein and complex carbohydrates, such as nuts, fruits, and whole-grain crackers, can help sustain your energy levels and improve your focus. Drinking water or consuming beverages high in caffeine, like coffee or tea, can also help keep you awake and alert.

What Are Some Common Foods That Can Cause Drowsiness While Driving?

Some common foods that can cause drowsiness while driving include high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods, such as fast meals, sugary snacks, and heavy pasta dishes. Other culprits may include foods high in processed sugar, like candy bars and energy drinks, as well as alcohol and caffeine, which can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to drowsiness.

Michael C. Herrera

I’m a travel blogger with a focus on safety. I’ve been to all seven continents, and I love sharing my tips for staying safe while traveling. I also have a lot of experience with travel hacking and finding the best deals on airfare and hotels. My blog features reviews of restaurants, hotels, and attractions around the world.

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