It has been almost 28 hours since you’ve slept in your own bed. Your boss has made you work almost non-stop to get everything ready for a big shareholders’ meeting tomorrow, and you’ve only managed to sneak in one two-hour nap on your office floor within the last two days. However, the prep work is finally done, and even though you can barely walk, you get to go home.
You keep telling yourself, as long as you can make it to your car, you’ll be fine. You’ll blast the radio on WPGC and roll the windows down to stay awake. Besides, if you take 395, it’ll only take you about 10 minutes to get home. You can handle 10 minutes, if that means getting to sleep in your own bed...right?
Risks and Consequences of Drowsy Driving
According to studies researched at the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, moderate to severe sleep deprivation can cause cognitive impairment and motor function degeneration equivalent to those witnessed in legally intoxicated individuals. A lack of sleep can cause:
- Slowed or lapsed responses and reflexes
- Increased confusion
- Decreased concentration skills
- Inability to process images
- Blurred vision
- Decreased motor skills (fatigued muscles make it harder to steer or react)
- Increased chance of falling asleep
When your body doesn’t get an adequate amount of sleep, it will forcibly react and cause changes in motor and cognitive function in order to preserve the energy it needs to function. Similarly to if you hold your breath, you’ll eventually pass out—when you don’t get enough sleep or stay awake for too long, your body will react in order to make you aware that you need to rest. When you’re at home, these signals are fine—and generally welcomed—as they help you to relax and force you to sleep. However, when behind the wheel, these reactions can cause catastrophic effects leading to tragic and possibly fatal injuries.
If you feel drowsy or tired—don’t get behind the wheel. Always make sure that when you’re driving you are alert, awake, and focused.
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