Better Sleep Means Better Drivers
Experts are nearly unanimous: drowsy driving can be just as dangerous, if not worse, than drunk driving. Even being a little tired on the road can impair your judgement and make split-second decisions that much more difficult.
However, unlike drunk driving, drowsy driving is not as easily monitored and differs from driver to driver. Also, unlike drunk driving, being drowsy is neither a potentially criminal nor a self-inflicted condition and is looked upon by society as not only generally acceptable, but perfectly normal.
Over 70 million Americans admit to having trouble getting a good night’s sleep and at least one-third of all Americans have suffered insomnia at some point in their lives. These same people are required to commute and travel on a daily basis regardless of their sleep level. What’s going on, here?
There are five stages of sleep, but the important one that promotes rest, healing and growth is the last one: Rapid Eye Movement, or “REM”. Studies on sleep deprivation have shown that a lack of REM sleep impairs the ability to learn complex tasks, and the deprivation of REM sleep produces a deficit that the body is determined to balance.
Have you ever watched your co-workers start to “nod off” during work hours? That’s probably why!
Part of the reason, says sleep experts, is over-stimulation. The United States ranks the highest in caffeine consumption, 54% of the population consuming caffeine on a regular basis. Coffee drinkers average three cups per day. While this keeps us awake and slightly more alert during the day, it unfortunately does the same thing at night when we’re trying to sleep. And while a growing number of people depend on their smartphones and facebook to fall asleep at night, screen usage triggers an activity response in the brain that can inhibit REM sleep.
So what can you do to get better sleep and stay safe on the road?
+ Cut down on caffeine, relying on more natural energy-boosting foods instead.
+ Turn off the screens and check all problems and worries at the bedroom door. Whatever pressing issue that’s demanding your attention will still be there in the morning.
+ Don’t go to bed hungry, but don’t stuff yourself, either. A glass of warm milk works because of its level of tryptophan, a substance in the body that promotes sleep.
+ Although it’s tempting during the day, avoid naps. If you already have problems sleeping, this will make it worse.
Inadequate sleep causes several probems of driving that we find normal: yawning a lot while driving, nearly missing your turns and traffic signals, frequently drifting from your lane, and not remembering the last few miles of your drive. The solution is simple. Take care of yourself and get better quality sleep, and road safety will (mostly) take care of itself!
First Baldwin Insurance
The Seattle Times