“I’m so tired!”Getting a good night’s sleep is a challenge for many students.When, though, can a lack of sleep lead to more than just dark circles under your eyes and put you at risk for something potentially harmful, dangerous, even fatal? When you get behind the wheel and drive drowsy!
Most of us are aware of the dangers of drinking while driving. However, fatigue and driving is something many drivers do without realizing just how serious the consequences can be. According to The Canadian Sleep Society, driving while drowsy is the second leading cause of car accidents with alcohol being the first. The sobering reality is that after being awake for 18 hours straight your blood alcohol concentration level is comparable to that of being legally drunk. Fatigue, like alcohol, impairs your body’s motor capabilities, diminishes your attention span and adversely compromises your driving skills. Can you think of a time when you caught yourself nodding off or zoning out while driving? Sadly you’re not alone. As many as 50% of Canadians have reported driving while drowsy and nearly 25% admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel!
If those stats were not enough to keep you up at night, a new Australian study published just this past May in JAMA Pediatrics, just might! The study focused on the driving and sleeping habits of young drivers between the ages of 17 and 24. The results indicated those participants with 6 hours or less sleep a night had a 21% increased risk for having a car accident, and those who got less sleep on weekends were at a startling 55% increased risk of having an accident with most occurring between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. The same study also reported that in the US drowsy driving resulted in approximately 1 million crashes causing 50,000 injuries and a devastating 8,000 deaths in the past year!
How much sleep did you get last night? Will you be “crashing” a little earlier tonight and plan to sleep-in over the long weekend?