Why Does Driving Make You Tired? (7 Reasons Why)

Depending on where you drive, your drive can be a great way to destress. However, driving may be too relaxing for some people as some people state that they feel sleepy when they drive.

You may be wondering why driving makes you tired. I did the research, and here is what I learned!

Why Does Driving Make You Tired?

Driving makes you tired because the car makes people sway and feel steady vibrations that cause people to feel sleepy. Moreover, already being sleep deprived, thirsty, or hungry can worsen how you feel while driving. Additionally, it is mentally tiring to drive, especially if you are driving for long periods.

Are you curious to learn about what other factors make you tired while driving? I made a list of reasons below, so keep reading!

1. Vibrations

Firstly, one of the main reasons driving makes you tired is the vibrations your cars make while you drive.

Normally, most drives create gentle vibrations that the drivers will feel, and they often feel sleepy after driving for extended periods.

In fact, it was found that drivers experience less alertness and concentration while sleeping after around 15 minutes of driving.

This is because cars and trucks normally produce steady vibrations that hit low frequencies, which will slowly make the driver feel tired.

It is similar to how steadily rocking a baby can induce sleepiness, as the steady and slow motion can make the baby tired.

As such, driving for half an hour or longer can significantly impact your energy levels, meaning you would feel more tired the longer you drive.

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2. Mentally Tiring

Generally, you do not have to physically exert yourself to be tired as anything that is mentally taxing can make you tired.

Typically, driving is seen as a mentally taxing activity because you need to be focused on your surroundings constantly.

For instance, you need to keep an eye on the road at all times to watch out for other cars, pedestrians, or animals.

Another example is how you would need to keep an eye on your car mirrors to look at what is around your car.

Moreover, driving requires a lot of patterns that you would have to follow, such as thinking of braking then hitting your brakes.

As such, your brain will be working hard to drive responsibly and efficiently, which will eventually make you tired.

Therefore, you will feel much more tired if you are driving for an extended period because your brrin will be exhausted from concentrating for so long. 

3. Moving Back And Forth

Whether you are a driver or a passenger, you will likely rock back and forth during a car ride due to the stops that a car normally has to make.

Typically, cars make the driver and passenger jerk back and forth, especially due to turns or stops, causing people to feel a swaying-like motion.

You are also more likely to move around more in a car if you are facing a lot of windy roads, stops, or bumpy roads.

Moreover, riding an older car that has a rusty, loud engine will likely mean that the car will jerk a lot more.

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Similar to how vibrations make people sleepy, swaying back and forth in a car for long periods can make people tired.

4. The Time Of The Day

The Time Of The Day

Usually, the time of the day that you drive can affect your drive as certain times can make you sleepy.

For instance, most sleep-related accidents on the road occur some time after lunch or in the early hours of the morning.

Of course, trying to drive early in the morning when you will likely be tired from just waking up will make you feel tired while driving.

Normally, driving after lunch, especially if it was a heavy meal, induces sleepiness while driving because some foods can increase melatonin, which is the “sleepy hormone.”

Additionally, melatonin production can increase in the early evening, so driving during sunset hours can make you feel sleepy.

Therefore, trying to drive at times that would be when your body’s circadian rhythm tells you to sleep or when you produce higher amounts of melatonin will make you tired. 

5. Hunger Or Dehydration

Just like how your car needs gas, your body needs enough fuel from liquids and food to run efficiently.

Whenever you are hungry or thirsty, you are likely to have a harder time concentrating while driving, which will in turn make you sleepy while you drive.

However, what you eat and how much you eat can also impact how tired you feel while driving.

For instance, eating a lot of sugar foods or drinks before you drive can give you a quick burst of energy, but you will likely feel a sugar crash shortly after that makes you feel tired.

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Another example is eating a very heavy meal full of carbs, which normally makes you feel very full and tired.

6. Driving Solo

While having loud passengers can be distracting, the noise and company of other people in the car can make you stay awake.

Driving by yourself is often very quiet, and having extended periods of silence can make you feel sleepy quickly.

7. Sleep Deprivation

Of course, one of the most common reasons why driving would make you tired is that you were sleep deprived to begin with.

This means that you were likely lacking in sleep before you got behind the wheel, so driving worsened your feelings of being tired.

Generally, most adults will need at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night to stay their most alert and concentrated.

As such, even lacking 1-2 hours of sleep can make you feel tired, which will make you feel even sleepier once you drive.


Generally, driving makes you tired because the act of driving requires a lot of concentration, which is mentally taxing.

Moreover, other factors like sleep deprivation, hunger, thirst, or the time of the day can affect how you feel while driving.

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