Do you take a medication to help you get to sleep? If so, you likely know that you should not operate a vehicle or machinery after you have taken your medication. However, some medications have been known to put individuals into a trance that can best be described as a blackout period. For example, some people have driven cars and performed other unsafe activities such as walking outside their homes despite being "asleep." The following points can help you better understand this phenomenon and take actions to protect your safety. 

Ensure your keys are in a place that would be hard to access during sleep.

If you do not live alone, consider giving your keys to a family member or roommate at night. This will protect you from being able to get the keys. If you live alone, consider installing a simple alarm on a drawer and keeping your keys there at night. If you attempt to open the drawer, the alarm should go off, which might startle you and wake you up. This is not a guarantee. Some people who sleepwalk remember details during their episodes. This is how some people manage to walk throughout their homes without stumbling over any furniture. 

Consider alternative therapies.

If you have already had a sleepwalking episode, it might be a good idea to ask your doctor about weaning yourself off of your prescribed sleep medications. You may be able to get better sleep by getting a routine or sleep regimen started. You could also benefit from relaxation techniques such as meditation. Other medical therapies, such as acupuncture, might also be a safer alternative than the risk of driving while sleep. If you consume a lot of caffeine, a diet change that reduces your caffeine intake could be helpful.

Do not assume that over-the-counter sleep aids are harmless.

Many of the stories that are shown on television are related to prescribed sleep medications. This can create a false sense of security for individuals who buy over-the-counter sleep aids. Using these can be just as serious, especially if you self-medicate in other ways. Avoid using alcohol when taking sleep medications. This can intensify the "sleepy" effect and might make you more prone to a blackout too. 

A DUI lawyer is a good resource to use if you are ever charged with a DUI after using a sleep aid. Manufacturers of many sleep aids have warnings on their medications to protect them against liability lawsuits. In a criminal case such as driving under the influence, a defense lawyer might be able to prove that you were unaware of your actions. This could result in reduced charges or a dismissal.