- Roberts Law Firm, APC
Slam!!! You were just rear ended. You find out that the driver behind you fell asleep at the wheel. Our firm seeks compensation for those injured by drowsy drivers. If you are driving tired, you could be endangering others. At times, drowsy drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk drivers.
It’s no secret that not getting enough sleep is bad for your health. A recent study estimates that a third of U.S. citizens are sleep deprived and up to 45% have reported a lack of sleep affecting their life within the past seven days. Sleep deprivation can result in negative health complications which include; acid reflux, headaches and migraines, weight gain, poor vision, and an increased likelihood of illness. Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have also been linked to sleep loss.
Safety is obviously a major concern when it comes to sleep deprivation. A study conducted by the CDC found over seven percent of adults between the ages of 25 to 35 reported falling asleep while driving in the past month. In all, 37% (103 million people) have reported falling asleep at the wheel in the past year. The National Traffic Safety administration estimates there are about 71,000 injuries, 1,550 deaths, and over $12.5 billion in monetary losses each year caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
To make matters worse, many people don’t realize how sleep deprived they are. Joseph Kaplan, MD, co-director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. says there are two processes that govern sleepiness: the amount of sleep you get and the circadian rhythm — your natural cycle between alertness and sleepiness. Regardless of actual sleep times, your least alert times are between 5-8 a.m. and 2-4 p.m., while you’re typically most alert between 10 a.m.-noon and 7-9 p.m. Another study found that people who drove after being awake for 17-19 hours performed worse than those who had a blood alcohol level of .05%.
So what can be done to mitigate these risks to ourselves and others? A regular sleep pattern is really the only sustainable answer. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This will help your personal circadian clock to calibrate when you should enter into your sleep cycles. Avoid what’s called “social jet-lag” — changing your sleeping pattern by sleeping in on the weekends. As great as this may feel, the effect it has on changing our circadian clock turns out to be much more of a detriment than a boon.
The other major culprit? Technology. Avoid screens at least an hour before going to bed. Cell phones and computer screens emit a blue wavelength light that interferes with the brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical that tells our body it’s time to sleep. Some studies suggest those who avoided looking at a screen at least an hour before going to bed experience a deeper and more productive night’s sleep. The National Institutes of Health suggest sleeping within the “thermoneutrality zone” which is 60 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit with pajamas and a blanket or 86 to 89 degrees if you prefer having less on.
As with most things in your life, diet and exercise play a role as well. Women suffering from insomnia found after four months of exercising regularly that they were getting at least 45 more minutes of sleep each night. And the more sleep they got, the more likely they were to work out. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a correlation between the amount of sleep subjects got and how diverse their diet was. To help with this, strive for each meal to be as colorful as possible with meats, fruits and vegetables. A small study found that office workers who were exposed to sunlight coming in through windows slept an average of 46 minutes more each night compared to their windowless co-workers. This all makes sense given that our ancestors used to hunt and gather for hours outside, eating whatever they could find before crashing in their caves for a long, deep sleep.
Do yourself and those you share the road with a favor and take care of your body. Sleeping at the wheel has caused many fatal accidents. The dangers are not only to yourself but other motorist and pedestrians as well. Don’t become a statistic by neglecting your health and getting poor quality sleep. For more information visit: https://drowsydriving.org/