Does more sleep = fewer accidents on the road?

Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for adults. Yet, there are various reasons why many people do not get enough sleep. Whether it is from diagnosed insomnia, staying up late with friends, working late, or a myriad of other reasons, lack of sleep is a common issue for many people across the nation.

Simply feeling tired the next day is not the only side effect that a lack of sleep can have. It also affects the ability to focus properly, which can directly affect the ability to drive safely on Tennessee roads.

How is a lack of sleep dangerous?

Feeling tired goes much deeper than many think. As we have discussed in previous blog posts, driving while drowsy is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol. According to Healthline, a lack of sleep can:

  • Inhibit focus and attention
  • Slow reflexes and reaction times
  • Increase the risk of errors

These effects also have very real consequences on the road. They can increase the risk of car accidents, with studies reporting drowsy driving resulting in an estimated 328,000 crashes each year, though that number is likely much higher than reports indicate.

Can more sleep help?

Getting more sleep can do more than improve your overall health, but possibly your safety as well. It could be the first step to making sure you can drive defensively. After all, if a lack of sleep increases the risk of a crash, then increasing sleep may help to eliminate that particular risk.

There are many ways to improve your sleeping habits, including:

  • Avoiding screens an hour before bedtime
  • Creating a bedtime routine to prepare yourself for sleep
  • Going to sleep and getting up at the same times every day

It takes effort to readjust a sleep schedule. Various factors might not be in our control and can effect the amount of sleep someone gets.  For example, if new parents must tend to a newborn every few hours of the night, it can be difficult to get enough sleep or be on a consistent sleep schedule. Even so, it is important to understand the effects that sleep, or lack thereof, can have on different aspects of our lives – including driving.

Of course, you cannot control how other drivers behave behind the wheel. However, you can take measures to make sure you are always alert and cautious on the road.

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