Too little sleep has become a public health epidemic affecting up to 70 million Americans and contributing to an increase of blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. I’ve created an audio CD about Sleep and Your Health as part of my 6 CD Health Accelerator series.
For this "Health Matters and Why it Matters to You" I want to tell you about one of the hazards of too little sleep that is the most lethal of all: falling asleep at the wheel. If that sounds like you, you are not alone. A 2009 study by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) which was a collaboration between the CDC and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research found that 4.7% of Americans reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month. That’s 1 in 20 drivers. Drivers that drive right up into your trunk, weave around the road, or demonstrate road rage could be exhibiting drowsy driving. That’s why 1,500 people die each year from drowsy driving and 40,000 more have non-fatal injuries.
If you find your eyes getting heavy, or you can’t remember what happened over the last few exits, or you find yourself opening the window for more air or turning up the radio, listen to your body. Find a safe place to pull over and either rest a few minutes or take a short stretch. Doing this every 100 miles or every two hours is a great idea in general. Driving during the day and avoiding those all night marathon drives is another great way to stay safe. Having a buddy drive with you to help you stay awake can save your life. Remember, driving a two-ton vehicle at 60 or more miles per hour, you might only get one chance to fall asleep at the wheel.
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Editor’s Note: As Dr. Seibel says, "It’s better to stay well than to get well!" Visit his award-winning site at www.doctorseibel.com.