"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Awake, alert, and alive: Is two hours of sleep enough?

On the morning of August 10, 2008, no sooner had the sun's rays lit up the sky than two people's lives modified ceaselessly. Nineteen-year-old Candy Lynn Baldwin was on her way home after being up most of the day gone by and night. She fell asleep while crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. His automobile flipped over the median and collided with a semi truck. It crashed into the bay killing its driver.

Ms. Baldwin suffered non-life-threatening injuries, but could have to live together with her crime for the remaining of her life. The driver, John Short, became one in every of the greater than 6,000 individuals who die annually because of this of drowsy driving. He joins an unlucky list that features comedian Tracy Morgan's Limousine Driver (hit by a truck whose driver had been asleep for twenty-four hours) and Maggie McDonnell (hit by a truck driver who was 30 was awake for hours). Ms. McDonnell's death has since inspired “Maggie's Law,” which makes it illegal in New Jersey to drive because of intentional sleep deprivation.

How low are you able to (technically) go?

Most likely, everyone has driven while sleepy a minimum of once. But how much sleep do you really want before driving is certainly unsafe? Recently, the National Sleep Foundation, A panel convened to reply this query, in consultation with experts from the sleep medicine and transportation industries. This is a fancy one because there are numerous other aspects besides sleep duration that determine one's sleep level. For example, a considerable amount of pre-existing “sleep debt” will exacerbate the consequences of severe sleep deprivation. Also, the time of day makes a difference. At night, your natural body clock (circadian rhythm) is about to “sleep” and due to this fact the decline in alertness from severe sleep loss might be worse than throughout the day. This is the explanation why drowsy driving accidents occur mostly at night. And in fact, the standard of 1's sleep may be very essential – which is why, for instance, attempting to repay your sleep debt with a motel room next to railroad tracks is ill-advised!

After considering all these issues and the available evidence, the panel concluded that if the motive force's impairment was certain Less than two hours of sleep In the last 24 hours.

Putting drowsy driving into perspective

Are there ways to cut back the consequences of sleep deprivation on driving performance? Stimulants comparable to caffeine can reduce sleepiness within the short term, but not indefinitely. Other commonly used methods have been shown to be ineffective. For example, turning up the quantity on the radio and opening the automobile window are each useless. Additionally, even should you don't get enough sleep, you possibly can still be weak due to the poor correlation between sleep and performance. Only sleep can reverse the consequences of lack of sleep!

Drowsy driving is a major public health risk within the United States. According to an estimate by the Institute of Medicine, as much as 20% of all motorized vehicle accidents are related to drowsy driving. This signifies that drowsy driving causes greater than 1 million accidents yearly. And the actual number could also be much higher because drowsy driving is usually underreported.

The only cure is for people to not drive without adequate sleep. Two hours could be the lower limit, but you shouldn't be fooled into pondering it's protected even should you sleep longer. Bottom line: “Sleep deprived? Don't drive.”