Sleepy at the Wheel
We've all been there. It's been a busy week at work, your kids have a million different activities going on at once, and to top it all off you aren't feeling 100%.
Long story short, you're worn out but just can't seem to get some much-needed sleep.
Driving While Under-rested
Although this is most certainly detrimental to your physical health, it also presents a danger to both you and those who might ride in a car with you while you are driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers who only sleep five or six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as drivers who get seven hours of sleep or more.
It gets worse. The same study also found a direct correlation between the lack of sleep and crash rate.
For example, drivers in this study who only got four hours of sleep in one night had a crash rate of four times the normal rate; almost the exact same as the crash rates seen in drivers who are drunk.
The study concludes that motorists who have not slept more than seven hours during a 24-hour period should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Confirming Prior Research
This information reported in this study is not a new discovery. Previous studies have shown that around 20% of fatal car accidents in the United States involve a drowsy or impaired driver.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 35,092 people passed away in auto accidents in the U.S. in 2015, which was a 7.2% increase from 2014.
These studies were focused solely on sleep-deprived accidents related to automobiles, but it opens the door to a larger trend.
As a country, we generally do not give sleep the respect it deserves. To go along with automobile accidents, lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain and depression.
Sleep specialists generally recommend that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, which is a number that experts believe few Americans actually get.
Sleep Better, Sleep Longer
As you can tell, falling asleep at the wheel is a big problem for Americans that is continuing to grow. Not only does it put the driver of the vehicle into harm's way; it also puts passengers as well as other motorists and pedestrians at risk, too.
Prioritizing sleep not only benefits you; it benefits all those around you as well.
A good rule of thumb is as follows: if you are feeling sleepy, pull over and take a nap. A 10 to 20-minute nap every couple of hours during a long drive has huge safety benefits in terms of an individual's ability to drive without crashing.
For other helpful sleeping tips, as well as information regarding which bed is best for you, visit us here on the Daily Doze.