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What Is Highway Hypnosis and Is It Real?

Cars are driven on a highway at sunset.

You’re on the road, and you look around, suddenly realizing that you’re much closer to your destination than you thought. The only issue is that you don’t remember driving that far. Is that possible?

You might be experiencing a phenomenon known as highway hypnosis, but what does that even mean?

Highway hypnosis occurs when you go into a trance-like state when driving. Essentially, your brain slows down due to the monotony, and you start driving on autopilot. The occurrence can feel like fogginess, fatigue, a dazed feeling, or heavy eyelids, and it can lead to less alertness when you drive.

Why does it happen, though? While you might feel fatigued after it happens, being tired isn’t always the primary cause. Monotonous roads have been linked with causing fatigue. Also, when you drive on a road you know well (commuters, this one might be you), your brain depends less on what you’re seeing and more on your prediction of what’s to come. Your brain basically turns on low power mode.

IRON °FLASK Grip Coffee Mug

Grab your coffee and stay awake on the road.

Obviously, highway hypnosis isn’t the safest thing in the world. When it comes to prevention, you can probably figure that out for yourself. Drinking caffeine, singing, talking, and taking a break while driving can all lessen the risk of highway hypnosis.

Whether you’ve got a daily commute or have a road trip planned, it might be wise to stock up on some cold brew or make a new playlist.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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