Didn’t Get Much Sleep? Your Risk of a Crash Increases, Recent Study Finds
The collective interest in getting a good night’s sleep is growing, and for good reason. Thankfully, for the sake of society’s mental and physical health, getting the proper amount of shut-eye has become synonymous with maintaining our health on several fronts. No longer is it associated with slothful escapism or indulgent pampering, as evidenced by the mounting conversations and eye-opening statistics on the topic.
The latest study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is yet another example that sheds light on the vital role sleep plays in our lives. Released Tuesday, December 6, 2016, the study reveals some spine-tingling statistics that should be enough to make everyone take sleep more seriously, starting tonight.
The study, authored by Brian C. Tefft, Senior Research Associate with AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, states:
The results of this study indicate that drivers who usually sleep for less than 5 hours daily, drivers who have slept for less than 7 hours in the past 24 hours, and drivers who have slept for 1 or more hours less than their usual amount of sleep in the past 24 hours have significantly elevated crash rates. The estimated rate ratio for crash involvement associated with driving after only 4–5 hours of sleep compared with 7 hours or more is similar to the U.S. government’s estimates of the risk associated with driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or slightly above the legal limit for alcohol in the U.S., and the increase in crash rate associated with driving after less than 4 hours of sleep is much greater.
That’s right, not getting enough sleep and then deciding to drive is on par with getting behind the wheel after having one too many alcoholic drinks. Your risks of crashing in this drowsy, unfocused state are similar, whether you’ve pulled another all-nighter at the office or downed another shot of tequila while out with buddies. The bottom line is that putting yourself in situations that lure you away from adequate sleep can chip away at your health, either slowly over time or in one potentially devastating, life-altering vehicular crash.
While the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study “…is the first study to quantify the relationship between specific measures of recent sleep and the risk of crash involvement in a representative sample of crashes of the general driving population,” it’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard of the correlation between lack of sleep and problems involving drowsy driving.
The Growing Acceptance of the Need for Sleep
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the importance of proper sleep, stressing on its site that lack of slumber does everything from decreasing driver attention to slowing down driver reaction time.
So important is getting enough sleep that the National Sleep Foundation has declared a week in November as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week , using #Awake2Drive on social media as a tool to reinforce the message.
Over at Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington — a longtime sleep and wellness advocate — continues to hone in on the need for sleep. There, several articles convey the need for sleep. From the CEO and co-founder of Mass Innovation Labs talking about doing away with lack of sleep badge of honor to an article by yours truly about how sleep deprivation was the main impetus behind quitting a Madison Avenue career in my twenties, it’s obvious that the need for sleep — and the right amount of it — is becoming more accepted than it is dismissed.
Sure, there are many of us who understand the multitude of benefits that sleep provides. We take naps when we can. We know when to call it a day at work or when to say no to a friend who wants to stay out way too late (again). We don’t feel lazy letting our heads sink into comfy pillows, but rather refreshed with the knowledge that we’re doing something to enhance our health for the long haul.
If Sleep is so Good for Us, Why Are Some People Still Avoiding It?
Still, there are those who remain trapped between choosing sleep over impressing a boss, choosing between sleep and proving super-hero energy levels to a significant other (or even themselves), or who wrestle with the notion that sleep is something reserved for the unambitious soul.
It’s this latter group I hope to reach out to by impressing upon them just how critical sleep is to our physical and mental health. Foundations, CEOs, medical experts, and everyday people across the globe have conveyed the importance of slumber by sharing their personal stories, studies, and statistics. We must heed the advice in their life lessons and take other crucial findings seriously.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take an extra hour or two of sleep over another unproductive late-night work meeting, possible health crisis, or risk of a car crash any time.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on December 6, 2016.