Everyone’s heard the spiel of how more sleep is better for you and what happens when you don’t sleep enough. And even though we know it’s bad not to sleep enough, nobody follows this advice. Well, a new study might change your mind about sleep.
A new study in Oxford Academic’s medical journal, Sleep, shows how bad the effects of sleep deprivation really are, especially on your driving. According to the report, drivers who had 6 hours of sleep were 30 per cent more likely to crash compared to those who had 7-9 hours of sleep. However, it only gets worse. Drivers who slept for 5 hours before driving were almost twice more likely to crash, those who slept for 4 hours were almost 3 times as likely, and those who had less than 4 hours were 15 times as likely.
In the report, author Brian C Tefft notes that those who slept less than 4 hours were as large a risk of crashing as drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of 0.12 g/dL. In Singapore, drunk driving occurs when the driver’s BAC is above the limit of 0.8g/dL and is punishable with a $1,000 to $2,000 in fines, and a driving ban of 12 to 18 months for those aged 35-54 years old.
“Even if they manage to stay awake, sleep-deprived drivers are still at increased risk of making mistakes — like failing to notice something important, or misjudging a gap in traffic — which can have tragic consequences,” Tefft said in a journal news release.
According to a report in Reuters, University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Sanjay Patel, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health that, “The odds of being responsible for a crash go up from 2.9-fold to 15.1-fold as sleep drops from four to five hours to less than 4 hours. But that . . . is not surprising given what we know about how decreasing sleep affects other aspects of brain function.”
The study also found that drivers who changed their sleep or work schedule recently had a 30 per cent increased risk of crashing their vehicle.
“(This shows that) independently of the effect of sleep deprivation, disruption in the body’s internal clock can also increase one’s risk of causing a crash,” Tefft said.
“With changes in the work economy and growth of ridesharing, we’re seeing a growth of a “gig” economy where many work from home, work irregular hours, or work multiple jobs. (Data like this) may make the difference between recommendations of ‘you need a cup of coffee’ versus ‘you need a nap,’” according to Benjamin McManus, a researcher in the Translational Research and Injury Prevention Laboratory at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He also said, “Judgment and decision making are highly impacted by poor sleep quantity and quality,”
“Daytime sleepiness is an important clinical symptom, can be a sign of sleep apnea, which is a disease about as common as diabetes but difficult to screen for,” said Steven H. Feinsilver, M.D., Director, Center for Sleep Medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital, Professor of Medicine, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell, in a report by Forbes.
“I think it is hard to tell which is worse, driving impaired or driving sleepy,” said Feinsilver. “Sleepiness while driving is a huge public health problem–actually, the most common cause is just sleep deprivation, which is rampant in our 24-hour culture.”
While sleep deprivation is bad for driving, it is also important to remember that sleep deprivation affects every part of your life. Everyone, from children to adults, can be affected by sleep deprivation. Not only is it bad for your current health, but it could cause adverse effects in the future as well.
By Muhd Farhan