Vs. Driving Tired

Posted: July 2, 2012 in Behavior
Tags: , , , , , ,

Here’s the deal. I went to Vegas last week and on the drive home I was battling sleep. You know the feeling, you’re driving along and your sleep-deprived brain is convinced that a quick nap is more important than steering the car. Wait just a second, you tell your brain, if we take a nap while operating a motor vehicle we will probably die. Don’t be so dramatic, our brain replies, I’m really, really tired up here.

That’s my brain talking. Supposedly the smartest part of my body. If I can’t trust it, who’s to say that I can rely on any of my organs? Now that I think about it, my liver talked me into betting on the Oklahoma City Thunder – are all of my body parts trying to sabotage me?

It’s truly astonishing that my brain would consider this an appropriate time to sleep. Even as I almost nod off, then jerk back to consciousness and right my Kia, the surge of adrenaline immediately subsides and is replaced by soothing lullabies from my internal clock trying to hypnotize me into certain peril again. Seriously? You’d think the memory of almost dying would last more than fifteen seconds…I’m chugging down the road at 72 miles per hour and you will not stop trying to put me to sleep? Who’s side are you on here?

A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London

Funny, he looks so trustworthy.

Eventually, my brain had a rational thought and convinced me to pull over and take a ten minute nap in a McDonald’s parking lot. (Sleeping, by the way, is the healthiest thing you can do at a McDonald’s, ever since they eliminated their transcendental McYoga workshops). Refreshed, I returned to the highway and made it the rest of the way home with no additional sleep issues.

But I still don’t understand it. It’s sort of like when you gulp up a beverage and it goes down your windpipe. It’s inexplicable. Most human beings are very accomplished swallowers. And 99.993% of the time we get it right. That’s why I have no idea why once in a blue moon our bodies will simply forget how everything works and send some Mountain Dew down our breathing tubes leaving us hacking as if this were our very first time attempt to drink a beverage. Come on, body, this is routine stuff.

Similarly, our survival instinct should kick in and recognize that speeding down the road in a car is one of the worst times ever to consider catching some shuteye. We’re driving. It’s really important to keep our eyes open. That way we can see the road and avoid hitting the other cars. But our eyelids are suddenly made out of lead and it feels like a pair of marionettes are tugging them down as they dance a lively jig (please vote now – this has just been nominated for the Unusual Blogging Simile of the Year Award). And no amount of awareness about the importance of staying alert can stop our bodies from trying to doze off.

I guess there are some things we can’t learn, no matter how many times we try. It’s like coming up with a clever way to end a blog post. Although I do it time and time again, it just feels like sometimes I

  1. speaker7 says:

    My brain has betrayed me several times. It convinced me to watch Bachelor Pad. It almost enrolled me in H&R Block tax school.

  2. Josha says:

    my brain convinced me to comment on this blog post, even though i can’t think of anything worthwhile to say.

  3. ravolution says:

    Sleep is for the weak

  4. Jenny says:

    Inspired post. I’m glad you made it back safely.

  5. Outlier Babe says:

    If you limit you speed back from Vegas to only 72 mph, what do you expect? If humans were meant to drive moderately fast, Her Great Goodness wouldn’t have given us radar detectors. Stay alive: Drive 85!!

    (And quit pouring Dew down your gullet–of course your peristaltic wave is going to rebel occasionally–BLECHHH…)

    • Makya McBee says:

      Speaker – Yikes. Watching Bachelor Pad is far more dangerous than driving while sleeping.

      Josha – That’s the problem with most brains, they fail to think ahead (get it? “Think a head?” Because they’re in your head? Sorry, it’s the best my brain can do).

      Rav – In my case, sleep is for the week (I take really long naps).

      Jenny – I’m glad someone is concerned for my safety…you should talk to my brain about what’s important in life.

      Babe – 22 years without a speeding ticket (even though, technically, I’m almost always speeding). What, you don’t do the Dew?

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