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Sleep deprivation and driver fatigue

26-05-2014

Sleep deprivation and driver fatigue

Sleep deprivation can make you feel like death, but did you also know that it could turn you into a killer? It certainly can, in fact if you go through the stats on accidents you will find that many of them have been caused by sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep has caused many deaths and will cause many more. If you are not sleep properly then it could be you who becomes the next sleep deprived killer.

Lack of sleep can really leave you at your worst. You know that feeling when you get up in the morning and have not had enough good quality sleep. Your brain is foggy, your reaction timing is terrible and you are often in a foul mood. You are not in a good state and if you go out into the world like that you are increasing the odds of doing something dangerous that could kill you and other people.

The scary thing is that many of us are sleep deprived, with many surveys of the Western world finding that anywhere between a third and a half of all adults feel like they are sleep deprived on a regular basis.

To make matters worse, many of these sleep deprived people will get up in the morning, hop behind the wheel of a tonne of so of metal that is capable of travelling at over 100 km/h, whizzing right past other hunks of metal travelling the same speed in the opposite direction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 100,000 of the annual car crashes in the U.S. directly result from driver fatigue and the stats are no doubt similar in Australia.

Some of these people will then go to a job where they are flying other people across the ocean or are operating a crane, digger or other piece of machinery.  Think of all these sleep deprived people using dangerous machinery, doing high risk jobs where a mistake could be deadly. No wonder that sleep deprivation is a killer.

Sleep deprivation has been the cause ( or a contributor) to some of the worst accidents in human history. Take the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the Exxon Valdez ship wreck, the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown and the recent derailing of the US commuter train , killing four people and injuring more than 60, as examples of accidents that were caused, at least partially, by sleep deprivation.

So what can we do? Obviously we cannot not go to work because we have had a bad night’s sleep, the boss would not take to favourably to this as an excuse. The aim then needs to be improving our sleep health. We need to work on sleeping better. Learning how we can sleep better and what triggers make it harder for us to sleep. There are many changes you can make to your lifestyle that will improve your sleep so work on them and make sure that you do not turn into the next sleep deprived killer.


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