Tags: driving | drowsy | danger | vacation | sleep | microsleep

Don't Let Drowsy Driving Ruin Your Summer Vacation

man driving and yawning, and woman in passenger seat falling asleep
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 June 2023 12:45 PM EDT

It’s summertime and according to the Summer Travel & Trends Survey 2023 by The Vacationer, 85% of Americans plan to travel this year, a 5% increase over 2022. And nearly four out of five travelers plan to take a road trip this summer. While vacations are exhilarating, they can also be tiring. Trying to fit as many activities as possible into your time off can leave you drained. As you set out for your return home, be aware of a danger that comes with the territory: drowsy driving.

According to HuffPost, driving while sleepy is common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about one in 25 adult drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel within the past 30 days. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 21% of fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver.

Being sleepy impairs your judgement and decision making, reduces your awareness of your surroundings, and can affect your coordination, balance, and fine motor skills. Even a momentary lapse of attention can be dangerous while driving.

Jeff Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Rise Science is a sleep expert and one of the first to publish research on how technology can help improve your sleep patterns.  He says that a phenomenon called “microsleep,” a momentary and involuntary state of temporary unconsciousness lasting only a few seconds, can be deadly if it occurs when driving, especially at 65 miles per hour. During microsleep, your brain is essentially taking a forced nap because its current level of sleep deprivation is preventing certain areas and networks from functioning.

“Those seconds can mean the difference between life and death,” says Kahn. The expert adds that 24 hours of sleep deprivation, at once or cumulative over time, can result in the same cognitive impairment as a blood alcohol level of 0.10%, which is higher than the legal limit.

The Department of Health of New York State says that the two most common times for sleep-related crashes are between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Drowsy driving is associated with:

• Sleep deprivation during your vacation. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep, say experts. But the excitement of travel and disruption of normal sleep routines can lead to sleep deficit.

• A sleep disorder. A sleep disorder like sleep apnea can cause low-quality sleep because of constant interruptions during the night.

• Medications or alcohol. Products like antihistamines or benzodiazepines contribute to drowsiness. And  that afternoon poolside cocktail, especially if mixed with these drugs, can result in slower reaction times, making driving dangerous.

• When and how long you are driving. It’s tempting to power through the drive home, and while driving overnight may seem like a good idea to avoid traffic, it increases the risk of sleepiness, says HuffPost.

Tricks to Stay Alert While Driving

If you find yourself drifting into another lane, yawning or head bobbing, struggling to keep your eyes open and focused, pull over and take a short 20-to-30-minute nap. “Even if you don’t feel like you’ll fall asleep, these signs indicate that your driving ability is impaired and it’s unsafe to continue driving,” says Kahn. Have a cup of coffee to help you avoid that post-nap grogginess, he added.

A little exercise in the mix can also help you stay alert. After your nap and cup of coffee, take a brisk walk or stretch. If you still feel drowsy, call someone to drive you home. If you are far away from your destination, consider booking into a motel to get your rest before continuing. While vacations can keep us busy, sacrificing sleep is never a good idea, especially if you will be behind the wheel.

© 2024 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.


Health-News
It's summertime and according to the Summer Travel & Trends Survey 2023 by The Vacationer, 85% of Americans plan to travel this year, a 5% increase over 2022. And nearly four out of five travelers plan to take a road trip this summer. While vacations are exhilarating, they...
driving, drowsy, danger, vacation, sleep, microsleep
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2023-45-14
Wednesday, 14 June 2023 12:45 PM
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