Driving under the influence…of INSOMNIA
As a nation, we’ve put a very high priority on sober driving, and with good reason. There are tens of thousands of injuries each year caused by alcohol-induced crashes, and millions upon millions spent on their treatment. In fact, in an article written by Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post, it’s reported that at a blood alcohol level, or BAC of .05 (completely street legal), your odds of wrecking a car are 100% higher than that of someone who has had no drinks. That said, there is a risk factor that mirrors or surpasses the danger in driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol according to a report from the Automobile Association of America (AAA).
According to Dr. Daniel Amen in his book, The End of Mental Illness, AAA reports that drivers who slept 6-7 hours in a night are 30% more likely to be in a car crash than those who got more than 7+ hours of sleep. From here, the relationship between a lack of sleep and the likelihood of getting in a car crash gets crazy! Look at these numbers:
- 5-6 hours of sleep = 90% more likely to get into a crash
- 4-5 hours of sleep = 430% more likely to get into a crash
- Less than 4 hours of sleep = 1,150% more likely to get into a crash!!
To give you a comparison between driving without having had enough sleep and driving under the influence of alcohol, you’d have to have a BAC of .10 (go to jail!) to compare with driving after only having slept 4-5 hours the night before. And if you slept less than 4 hours of sleep last night, you are as likely to be in a car crash as if you had a BAC of .15!!!
The main point to take from all this is to be sure you are getting enough sleep. The context here is in relation to your safety behind the wheel, but getting enough sleep also has a direct effect on your mental health, your metabolism (how easy or hard it is for your body to burn body fat), your ability to make good decisions, have good relationships and more! To get a good night’s sleep, try the following few tips:
- Go to bed at the same time every night. This helps your brain and body get into a natural rhythm of when it’s time to sleep.
- Avoid “screen time” for at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from screens can adversely affect your natural ability to sleep.
- Don’t eat for as close to 2 hours before bedtime as possible. You want your body to focus on resting when you lay down to go to sleep, not digesting and processing something you just ate.
- Keep a notepad by your bed. If you wake up with a busy mind and can’t go back to sleep, try writing your thoughts down on paper so you know you’ll remember to get to them the following day. With technology, you can also use a recording device on your phone.