Getting four hours of sleep, versus six hours, could be the difference between life and death on the road. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety completed a study correlating sleep deprivation to traffic accidents and found some eye-opening results.
“Drivers who reported that they usually sleep for 4-5 hours per day had 5.4 times the crash rate of drivers who usually sleep for 7 hours or more daily.” The study also found that drivers who slept for 6-7 hours had 1.3 times the crash rate, while the rate of drivers who slept for less than four hours increased by 10.2.
Not getting an adequate amount of sleep can affect our judgment and even our capabilities on the road. Even if we rely on coffee in the morning for a jolt of energy, we’re still not 100% alert as we would be with a few extra hours of sleep. And then there’s the risk of falling asleep at the wheel—it happens more than we think. One blink could turn into a five-second snooze and by the time your eyes are open, it could be too late.
Here are ways to offset fatigue while driving:
Whether your driving with a travel buddy or solo, long distance trips can be exhausting. Even if you’re taking turns at the wheel, everyone should take a nap before his/her shift. It may even be worth stopping at a hotel mid-way to rest up for a few hours, especially if the drive is over 15 hours.
Your body doesn’t get much movement while you’re sleeping, so it’s important to get it in motion when you wake up. Get a quick workout in before you head out in the morning. Try a few light exercises that will accelerate your heart and give you a boost of energy before you hit the shower.
Upgrade your mattress
If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for the past 15 years, this may be why you’re tossing and turning every night. Change your mattress for a better night’s sleep and a safe commute in the morning.
Establish a bedtime routine
Most importantly, you need an adequate amount of sleep to not only drive, but to also navigate the day with ease. Set a bedtime alarm that will alert you to wind down for bed and will allow you to sleep for seven hours every night.
Even if you’ve gotten used to getting four hours of sleep every night, think of how amazing you would feel getting seven. Many people think of it as a luxury, but it’s necessary for your safety on the road.
If you or a loved on has been injured in an automobile accident, the attorneys at Owen Patterson & Owen may be able to help. Call us at 800.676.5295 to discuss your options.