Could You Be Driving ‘Drunk’ and Not Know It?
By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
Alarm clock. Tired. Bad mood. Shower. Head to work.
If that sounds familiar, you join the millions of Americans who wake up groggy, annoyed and simply just too tired. Blame it on Jay Leno, the iPad or your worrying mind – either way, sleep is hard to get.
Americans have lost an hour and a half of sleep nightly, leading to dramatic consequences when it comes to roadway safety. According to a recent study at Harvard, when we get behind the wheel with inadequate sleep, we drive just as safely as drunk drivers. Needless to say, that’s not safe at all.
Interestingly enough, Americans associate an unspoken pride with lack of sleep, attune to a “go getter” attitude. People who wake up at 5 a.m. are ambitious martyrs. On the other hand, those who sleep in or go to bed early are less respected and looked down upon as lazy.
“There’s a cultural norm that says sleep is for losers in the United States,” says Russell Sanna, executive director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead researcher of the study.
But that mindset couldn’t be further than the truth. Getting adequate sleep is equivalent to keeping a healthy weight and not smoking, researchers say. But what’s more, good sleep can lead to increased productivity and focus – and that’s a win for everyone when it comes to safety on our roadways.
We can all agree that driving safely is good for our community. So when it comes to making good choices, start by hitting the snooze button. Your body will thank you and our roadways will become a safer place.
WANT MORE SLEEP?
Getting more sleep seems like a luxury. For most of us, it is. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Thanks in part to a recent article at the MayoClinic, here my top picks to help you catch some ZZZs while staying on top of work and personal life. It can be done – really!
SLEEP SCHEDULE. There’s a reason kids have a set bedtime: routine works. It’s not much different for adults, either. When you set a sleep schedule, your body becomes more accustomed to falling asleep on-time while becoming in-tune to a natural sleep-wake cycle. When you fall asleep more quickly, you’re bound to get more sleep – even an extra half hour can benefit your body and mind.
WATCH YOUR PRE-BEDTIME DIET. Soda and coffee are no match against counting sheep; caffeine will always win. Be sure to avoid offending beverages and foods like chocolate before bedtime. Nicotine can also disrupt sleep so avoid smoking at night. Drinking alcohol may initially cause you to doze off, but can cause sleep problems later on in the night. Avoid eating and drinking before bedtime to make the most of a good night’s sleep.
RETIRE YOUR PHONE EARLY. Work has an uncanny way of disrupting our peaceful mood. And when we’re constantly berated with incoming emails and texts, it’s easy to lose track of sleep. Try to put your phone away at least an hour before bedtime and try to relax without thinking about work.
Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert, on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time. Catch Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
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