Q. A while back you ran a suggestion of eating sunflower seeds to stay awake while driving. Something about removing the shell with your teeth and tongue apparently helps alertness.
I want to second this idea. I used to drive 800 miles between Sacramento, CA, and Spokane, WA, and I had to fight sleep constantly. I tried mints, candy, chewing gum, soda pop and coffee without success. Then I started eating sunflower seeds, and my problem was solved!

A. Many others also endorse this tactic. Someone who chews on sunflower seeds while driving should keep a container handy for the shells.

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  1. AWC

    Chewing sunflower seeds actually has helped me a lot, but I also found that having a passenger in the car with you helps with staying awake, because of the fact that you are talking, and they can help pay attention too.

  2. RMD

    I find it amazing that everyone has a method for staying awake when they get sleepy while driving, instead of the obvious, which is to stop and take a nap. No wonder so many people die on our highways.

  3. Connie D.

    This is in comment to ‘Beau’: I know what you’re talking about! But first let me say that when I say ‘eat potato chips’, I’m talking about a few here and there, I didn’t specify that on my initial post.
    Now as for your ‘drugged’ feeling you mentioned, that has to do w/ a carbohydrate. I noticed that whenever I ate ‘Bean Burritos’ [double carbohydrate, beans/flour tortilla] I would get very ‘sleepy’, and as you say ‘drugged’ feeling, then it dawn my that it was all that carbohydrate that I ate.
    So when I say I keep awake w/ ‘potato chips or some type of crunchy chip, go easy on it!! And as one other person mentioned beware of all the salt!! Of course they also have them without salt. There is plenty of ‘healthy’ crunchy things to eat in Health Food Stores! This is just something that works for me, is not for everyone!! I know that coffee, or caffeine pills definitely do not work for me, I will be shaking after a few hours and then I’m miserable!!

  4. wcs

    Several years ago a friend told me about nibbling on pop corn to stay awake when driving, and it worked wonderfully. In the same vein, peanuts, chips, sun flower seeds, should all work since the idea is not any nutritional benefit from the product, but the idea of keeping “busy” helps keep one awake. I won’t leave home on a trip without something, anything, to nibble on.

  5. beau

    I read the post by Connie D. and it made wonder about something I have experienced. I was on a bunch of meds, overweight and really depressed (my previous posting). I dropped the weight, the meds and that helped drop the depression. I excluded all refined sugar products, HFCSs and products w/ aspartame (made my own bread, pizza dough, muffins, yogurt, salsa, ketchup, etc. and included natural supplements – if this seems extreme, I was truly desperate but it paid off).
    The point is this: Connie D. posted she used “potato chips” to keep her awake while driving. After all my change-reinventions I cannot eat potato chips – about an hour after consuming them I start feeling drugged and very sleepy. If I take a short nap I awaken sick and remain so for about four hours with a true revulsion for those chips. I tried consuming them another time with the same result.
    “Drugged” is not an overstatement – it is as though I have taken a downer dose of medication.
    Does anyone have any clues or suggestions as to why this would occur? Prior to all my revision changes, they did not have this effect.

  6. Connie D.

    Well, as Unhealthy as this may sound. I never buy or eat ‘potato chips’, but after trying everything in the world to stay awake while driving long distances, one day I just tried a small bag of chips and it worked! Now! before a trip I try to buy the healthiest Potato Chip I can find, it can also be Corn Chip. The reason, I realized later, why it works is because Chips make a lot of ‘Noise’ inside your head while you eat them. You cannot have that much noise in your head and ‘go to sleep’ at the same time!! So is the Crunchiness of them why it works!
    I must say the idea of the sunflower seeds sounds like it would definitely work for the reasons stated, you’re just ‘too busy’ trying to get the seed out w/ your tongue and it ‘keeps you awake’!!! Sounds perfect to me, ‘if’ you like those. I cannot stand even normally to fool w/ sunflower seeds still in the shell!!

  7. RMD

    Too messy for me, besides why fight nature. Stop the car and take a nap, you’ll feel much better and more awake when you wake up. Remember Sleep deprivation and driving are a dangerous mix. Just ask the Highway Patrol.

  8. PK

    Those who restrict their sodium intake, watch out. There is a high salt content in most sunflower seeds.

  9. beau

    I didn’t know about this recommendation, but I use the same tactic successfully. I think it’s also a neat “brain trick” to help combat the aging brain. The co-ordinated manipulation of the tongue and teeth fires those little cells in the brain to essentially “work” a puzzle. Nifty idea.

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