Thursday, May 11, 2017

Smart Safety: Drowsy Driving

Drowsy Driving is the cause of over 72,000 car accidents per year according to the estimates of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). This is just one of the many ways that sleep disorders affect our communities. 

I had a chance to interview Dr. Cindy Cooke, DNP and President of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. For more information you can check out Sleep Foundation.

Why is drowsy driving such a big deal?
Because the numbers are alarmingly high with 60% of U.S. adults saying they’ve driven while feeling drowsy and another 37% actually admitting they’ve fallen asleep at the wheel! What’s more astonishing is that over 100,000 driver-fatigue crashes happen each year resulting in well over $12 billion of monetary losses. Too often people think blasting the AC or slugging down a huge cup of coffee will keep you awake while driving. In fact, if you even have to question your ability to stay awake, then you should decide not to drive. Our recommendation is to sleep, even if it's a short nap. It's always better to give your body and mind time to rest and get all your senses up and running so you're as alert as possible.

Besides just not being in bed long enough, what are some other things that contribute to drowsy driving?
Alcohol use, prescription medications, temperature or even eye fatigue can cause people to become drowsy while driving. Couple that with the 71% of Americans who drive to work each day, and the 27% who’ve said they were drowsy driving in the last six months to a year, and we’ve got a real common problem. And if one out of every three people don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis or fall short of that minimum seven-hour sleep goal, it’s easy to see how people are awfully close to crossing the line between good health and a complete personal or professional catastrophe. If your busy days are encroaching on your sleep at night, don’t give up, try some of my recommendations (see below).

How can people prevent drowsy driving?
Again, drowsy driving is just part of the problem. What we're really talking about here is changing your overall sleep habits. Folks with poor sleep habits can start by making a date with sleep. If you treat sleep like that 10 a.m. meeting you absolutely can’t miss, you’re more likely to keep your promise to yourself. Once you commit to scheduling sleep, make sure you follow the same pattern each day. Don’t try to make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping all weekend. Sleeping in may seem like a good way to catch up on rest, but throwing off your sleep cycle will make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep Sunday night, which will make for a tough Monday morning. And make sure to pay off your sleep debt a little at a time. If you’re 20 minutes short on sleep Monday night, go to bed 20 minutes earlier on Tuesday.

What are some signs of sleep disorders?
Sleep deprivation is an epidemic in this country, and too many struggle in the dark with the consequences associated with not enough rest. Additionally, with symptoms like chronic snoring, difficulty with concentration, excessive daytime sleepiness or irritability plaguing an estimated 18 million adults with sleep apnea, it’s easy to get discouraged and carry on with poor habits.

Don’t get frustrated or give up on the possibility of living a well-rested life. Simple changes to your daily routine can pay huge dividends when it comes to reversing sleep debt. If they don’t, get help. Rest easy knowing there are solutions to get you the sleep you need
​ and stay away from dangerous situations like drowsy driving.​

No comments:

Post a Comment