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Dear Dr. Meinig: My work requires a considerable amount of driving. I don’t mind the driving and really like it but at times I get very sleepy. When I pull off the road and try to sleep for awhile, I find I can’t doze off even though I almost did so just a minute before in the car. Is there something I could eat or take that would help? This is a terrible feeling and I would like to have better control over it. – N.K.
Dear N.K.: Your experience is one I’m sure every driver has had on more than one occasion. There are a host of things you can do to prevent dozing off.
If most of the time the trouble occurs when you are driving in the city or heavy traffic you may be getting gassed to sleep by the carbon monoxide exhaust of all the cars surrounding you. Don’t drive with the car vent open as it sucks in more of those deadly exhaust gases. If you have an air conditioner, use it, even in the winter, as it usually has a filter that screens out some of the fumes.
When your driving is not in a heavy smog area, open the window and get some cool air circulating in the car or cool it with the air conditioner. Cold can help keep you awake. Keep your eyes roving from side to side, since staring at the highway and white lines is somewhat hypnotizing. Biting the tip of the tongue when tired or thirsty, can also help.
A number of acupuncture points when stimulated by pressure or fingernail stimulation can stop drowsiness. Press in the upper ⅓ of the lip, in the midline just below the nose, with finger or fingernail pressure or massage. Similar pressure between the eyebrows is also effective. Another accupressure point is stimulated by folding over the lower lobe of the ear and pressing hard. Incidentally this one also helps to warm you up when you’re in cold surroundings.
Pressure or massage just below the base of the skull at the back of the neck about one inch outward from the midline is helpful. Even more effective for women is a light squeeze of the breast nipple. For men, squeezing the penis at its base will make male drivers believers in the effectiveness of acupressure.
Your posture at the steering wheel and seat positions can be changed in order to break monotony and stimulate circulation. Slapping the face and thighs is also effective. Singing out loud, as loud as you can, stimulates many centers in the brain and is another useful tool when beginning to nod.
A nutrition break is usually very effective. Carry along a jar of mixed unroasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, plus almonds. Apples or other fruit and a piece of cheese on Rye Krisp is easy to handle. Include a bottle of water and some vitamin C tablets to counter driving stress. The energy pick-up can spell the difference and make you more alert.
These ideas are helpful but will not always work. When you are unsuccessful in warding off-sleepiness it is most important to pull off the road. Too many serious accidents are caused by drivers falling asleep. A short nap followed by a brisk walk or jog up the highway for a short distance will clear the cobwebs. When doing this, swing the arms and do the Diamond gait breathing method that we recommended some time back. (A copy of the article will be sent upon receipt of a self-addressed, stamped 10-inch envelope.) On a trip I usually walk or jog around the gas station when I fill up whether I’m tired or not. It is mighty refreshing and gives one a new start.
There are too many ideas here for you to remember. I suggest you type them in capital letters or hand-print a short reminder list of the ideas mentioned above and keep them in your car for reference.
Dear Dr. Melnig: Most of my life I have had painful lumps in my breasts. My doctor has said they aren’t serious but they are bothersome. Recently I heard vitamin E would help reduce them. I have been taking 100 units twice a day but haven’t seen too much improvement. I thought if vitamins were helpful you might know whether I should keep on with the vitamin E. – M.F.
Dear M.F.: This condition is said to afflict nearly 25 percent of women but even with so many involved little has been done to resolve the cause of the difficulty. These lumps are usually fibrous tissue or cysts. They must be examined closely by your physician in order to rule out the appearance of a malignant tumor.
The benign tumors you are referring to have, in a recent study, been found to be reduced by taking vitamin E. The dosage used in the research program was 600 units daily. Some 85 percent of 26 women showed improvement during the eight-week period of the study.
The research was conducted at the Sinai Hospital, under the auspices of Dr. Michael Schultz. Because of its high rate of success it was felt that the cures would make it easier for physicians to be able to detect cancerous breast tumors.
Painful breasts are also relieved by correcting an iodine deficiency. Ocean seafood is an excellent source of iodine as is kelp or kelp tablets.
You may not have had results from the vitamin E as your total daily intake was 200 I.U., while in this study 600 I.U. per day was the amount that reduced the breast lumps. Inasmuch as your doctor has said they were not serious it would be well to try this amount to see if you too could be relieved of the difficulty.