sleepy woman behind the wheel

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.

About The Author

The Daily Dozers The Daily Dozers is a team of our finest Mattress Firm sleep happy experts, pooling their expertise to bring you all you need to know on sleep news of the day and the latest trends in sleep health. Sometimes our team of regular Daily Doze contributors (Craig, Ken and Sunni…not to name names) will throw a pillow or two when trying to decide who gets to write about which topic; and when that happens, we let our task force of daily dozin’ specialists play referee, pooling their knowledge on the topic. From super-sized snoring habits to the very real struggle of trying to become a morning person, there’s no topic too tired for The Daily Dozers. Best Night’s Sleep: There’s nothing that this dream team loves more than long walks on the beach to prepare for a peaceful slumber, a warm cup of lavender tea, an old Jane Austen novel and curling up in the comfort of their very own Mattress Firm beds.

3 thoughts on “Sleepy at the Wheel

  1. Neil Bussey (30 year interstate bus driver says:

    Pull over safely on the side of the road and place a rock in your right shoe. You will be surprised what extra miles you can drive safely.

  2. Aryeh Moshen says:

    There is at least one device that was on sale in Israel (and paid for by your car insurance company if you install it) to detect certain patterns of slumbering drivers and issue an audible alarm. I’ve seen it only in a few high-priced models and there as an add-on. It should be made mandatory in all new cars.

  3. Head nodding? Take a nap. Devices to startle you, and keep you awake, may scare you enough to lose control. Get to a rest area, take a nap.

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