When drivers share the road, they also share the responsibility to look out for one another. As odd as it may sound, getting enough sleep at night is one way you can do your part as a safe driver.
Put simply, dosing off or falling asleep behind the wheel can result in a fatal accident. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drowsy drivers cause about 100,000 traffic accidents and nearly 1,550 deaths each year. To stand up against this statistic and preserve your own life, it’s worth evaluating your own sleep habits.
A pattern of restful sleep may increase your awareness behind the wheel. But what does restful sleep look like? Getting between seven and nine hours a night is one way to avoid sleep deprivation. But with the busy schedules many California residents live by can often interrupt a regular pattern of sleep.
Some ways you can set yourself up for good night’s sleep is by:
- Having a consistent bedtime and wake up schedule
- Shutting off lights or background noise on in your bedroom
- Choosing light, healthy options when you eat late in the day
- Avoiding caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime
Speaking with your doctor about any sleep troubles your having may also help. Plus, a medical professional can help you determine if a sleep disorder is a factor in your erratic sleep schedule or habits. Some common sleep disorders to consider are insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea and narcolepsy.
If you drive overnight shifts as a transportation worker or take on night or early morning shifts in a different line of work, then you may suffer from shift work sleep disorder. Since your sleeping schedule is quite literally experiences a shift, these are some ways you can try and increase your sleep quality:
- If it’s dark while you’re at work, expose yourself to more light during your shift
- Limit excessive lights or screen time before sleep
- Rest up before taking on a shift that will interrupt your sleep pattern
- Ask your doctor about taking a melatonin supplement
Remember that ignoring any sleeping issue or disorders you may be suffering from could cause you to drive recklessly.