Sleep deprivation in America

Insufficient sleep not only affects your memory and daily performance, but studies have now shown that lack of sleep can impair your ability to drive an automobile. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that drowsiness, including nodding off while driving, is responsible for 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries each year.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 75,000 drivers in 12 states, results showed that 35 percent slept less than seven hours per night, 48 percent snored, nearly 38 percent had fallen asleep at least once during the day and nearly five percent admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

It was also found that drivers between the ages of 25 and 35 are more prone to nodding off while driving, and men are more likely than women to fall asleep while driving.

According to ABC News, Dr. Allan Pack, director of the Center for Sleep at the University of Pennsylvania reports: “Most of us believe that there are a lot more fall-asleep crashes than reported. … [I]t is probably not reported accurately because a number of states do not even having a ‘falling-asleep-while-driving’ tick in the box when reporting a car crash. … [P]eople believe that if they cut back on their sleep, there is no real consequence. Everyone knows the dangers of alcohol, but I do not think people understand the dangers of drowsy driving.”

In related news, USA Today reports that people who are sleep deprived eat close to 300 calories a day more than they do when they are well rested. Ice cream is one of the most common foods that people eat when tired.

It is not surprising that an additional study showed that you can double your chances of reaching your target weight while on a diet if you get the proper amount of sleep each night — between six and eight hours. According to the Telegraph, the study found that people trying to lose at least 10 pounds were more likely to reach their goal if they had lower stress levels and got the right amount of sleep.


Sources: ABC News March 3, 2011, USA Today March 23, 2011, the Telegraph March 29, 2011, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) March 4, 2011, 60(08);239-242, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) March 4, 2011, 60(08);233-238, International Journal of Obesity March 29, 2011 and June 18, 2011.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 4, Aug/Sept 2011.

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