Prescribing Sleep

We’ve all heard the old adage “sleep is for the weak.” Turns out we were wrong. Sleep deprivation have real effects on our behavior. Arguably the greatest effects are seen everyday on our roads.

Sleep deprivation can be measured when an individual receives less than seven hours of sleep. According to “Why We Sleep” one in two adults are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation has profound effects not only on our ability to preform at work but also on our emotional stability. This results in serious consequences behind the wheel.

Drowsy driving is responsible for more deaths on the road than both drugs and alcohol combined. Drowsy driving accidents are deadlier because when our brain is deprived of rest it regains control and forces us into what is called a “Micro-Sleep.” When we are in a state of micro-sleep, although our eyes may not close completely, our brain is asleep. When a driver enters a state of micro-sleep behind the wheel they have no control over the vehicle for a brief period of time. It is the complete loss of control compared to the delayed reaction of an intoxicated driver that makes drowsy driving so hazardous.

Warning signs of drowsy driving include but are not limited to2

  • Drifting from your lane.
  • Missing your exit.
  • Yawning or blinking frequently.
  • Difficulty remembering past few miles driven.

Many states, including New Jersey, have adopted laws to combat drowsy driving. A driver who hasn’t slept in 24 hours is classified as driving recklessly, putting them in the same class as an intoxicated driver. Lawmakers hope that by educating the public on the dangers of drowsy driving and increasing the consequences associated with it they can save lives. If you or someone you know exhibits the signs of distracted driving urge them to pull over and only get behind the wheel when they are fit to drive.

Statistics on Drowsy Driving

  • Drivers who sleep between 4-5 hours are just as impaired when compared to those who are legally drunk.
  • Drivers who have slept less than four hours are just as impaired when compared to those who are over twice the legal limit.
  • Every thirty seconds there is a car accident linked to drowsy driving.