a tired woman who has insomnia driving in a car with a danger sign on her license plate and wind coming in one window and music going out the other

Too Tired to Drive

I can’t be the only one who’s felt it.

You’ve gotta go to a doctor's appointment, or a meeting, or to pick up your kiddo.

You’re in the car, you’re on your way, and you’re struggling...to keep your eyes open.

What to do when you're tired and driving with insomnia

You open the windows, turn up the radio, drink some water, and even slap your cheeks, and still, you wonder if you’re too tired to drive. If you’re a danger behind the wheel. You wonder how everyone else is not as tired as you, and then you remember that you never really sleep.

You wonder how you can make this life work, while being safe, and then you’re slamming on the breaks because the person in front of you stopped or because the light is turning and you almost missed it.

You take a deep breath and you commit to never drive this tired again.

Except you live with insomnia.

You’re always this tired.

What do you do?

What are your options?

Taxis or rideshare

Well, in bigger cities there are options like taxicabs and services like Uber or Lyft, which may be options for many people. The downsides? You’re on someone else's schedule, you’re paying per ride to go places, there are coordination and logistics involved, and if you have a little one, there’s usually no car-seat included in rideshare options.

Ask someone for a ride

Your partner, parent, friend, or family member can sometimes drive you where you need to go, but this feels challenging for a few reasons. You have to ask for help, which can seem hard in and of itself. You’re on their schedule, which can be really difficult. You also might be expected to chat with them, or entertain them, or do some things with them before or after your appointment/errand, which can take more time, energy, or dedication than you have available.

Stay off the road

You stay home. You have things delivered. You see doctors via telehealth appointments. You try to rest and save up any extra energy you may have for when you absolutely must drive somewhere. A pandemic maybe makes this part of life a bit easier, but it doesn’t make it disappear completely. This option makes you feel stuck. Resentful. Angry about having insomnia and always feeling so tired.

How do we manage the need to stay safe?

How do you manage life and your medical condition?

How do you manage your feelings with the need to stay safe?

I contemplate this often, when I’m home without wanting to be, or when I’m driving and wondering if it’s really safe for me to be doing so. I try to focus caffeine around any trips that require me to be behind the wheel, but it doesn’t always make a huge difference.

My driving confidence has decreased

I have to be honest, my driving confidence has decreased over time because of this. Because I always feel vulnerable behind the wheel. Because I’m always worried in the back of my mind if I’m too tired to be driving. If a little more sleep or rest would make me better equipped to drive safely, to react to changes on the road, and to get from one place to another more efficiently (and with less worry).

If you’ve thought about this, I’d love to hear where you’ve landed, how you manage these feelings, and who supports you along the way.

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