Drunk driving remains a threat on the roadway but for obvious reasons it is considered taboo in most circles. This is due in large part to campaigns to spread awareness about the incredible safety threat it poses. Drowsy driving can have a similar impact on driving safety. Until recently, it has not received the same amount of attention as drunk driving, but this is changing.
A report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety illustrated how driving drowsy can be just as reckless as driving while drunk. Researchers found sleeping less than four hours can increase your crash risk 12-fold. This risk factor is comparable to a blood alcohol concentration of .12 to .15. To put this in perspective, a 200-pound man would have to consume six to eight drinks an hour to reach this level of intoxication.
Lack of sleep effects more than just your reflexes and ability to operate a motor vehicle. Sleep deprivation has a wide-ranging impact on your health, including the following:
|Increased risk of car accidents||Increased accidents at work||Reduced ability to perform tasks|
|Reduced ability to learn or remember||Reduced productivity at work||Reduced creativity at work or in other activities|
|Reduced athletic performance||Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease||Increased risk of depression|
|Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease||Decreased immune function||Slowed reaction time|
|Reduced regulation of emotions and emotional perception||Poor grades in school||Increased susceptibility to stomach ulcers|
|Exacerbates current chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and cancer||Cutting one hour of sleep a night can increase the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress||Contributes to premature aging by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep|
Beware of Light Pollution
It may seem challenging at first, but another goal should be creating a sleep environment that is completely free of light. Blackout drapes are an excellent starting point. I highly recommend investing in a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. I call them reverse sunglasses and wear them in most commercial buildings. Artificial blue light should be avoided at all times and these affordable glasses reduce the harmful impact of high intensity and LED lighting.