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There are many factors that can increase the risk of a car crash. In addition to widely-covered issues such as road rage and phone use, drowsiness plays a major role in causing a large portion of accidents.
Knowing the signs of dangerous levels of drowsiness can help you avoid getting behind the wheel in a state of reduced ability to drive safely.
How much sleep is too little?
You have probably heard that most people need a minimum of eight hours of sleep to function optimally. What you may not know is that decreasing this amount by even an hour or two can drastically impact key functions such as focus, physical reflexes and judgment. A sleep deficit of more than two hours can result in impairment comparable to legal intoxication.
How do you know you are too tired to drive?
Signs you may be too tired to drive safely include frequent yawning, rubbing your eyes and blinking often. Other red flags may include realizing you do not remember the last few miles you drove, drifting in and out of focus and feeling the urge to close your eyes.
What are some ways to handle drowsiness?
Attempting to power through can be dangerous. Instead, avoid getting behind the wheel and opt for an alternative way to get to your destination. If you are already driving, you may need to pull over and rest as soon as it is safe to do so. For long trips, it is smart to plan ahead and bring a companion who can take turns at the wheel. In cases of mild fatigue, coffee can induce temporary wakefulness that can suffice if you only have a short distance to cover.
Who is more likely to feel sleepy while driving?
Some people are at increased risk for drowsy driving. This category includes those who routinely drive long distances and/or at night, such as long-haul truckers and shift workers. Certain medications can also induce drowsiness and fatigue, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and pay attention to any warning labels. Sleep disorders such as apnea can lead to fatigue even when a person follows an appropriate sleep schedule.