It?s a no-brainer ? staying awake behind the wheel is essential. But recent research has indicated that your typical sleep routine can actually predict your likelihood of having a car accident.
The Association for Psychological Science has highlighted two European studies that examined the connection between routine sleep habits and poor driving skills. The first author, Frank P. McKenna of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, gathered 7,075 experienced drivers (4,000 men and 3,075 women) and instructed them to fill out numerous surveys that focused on ?risky driving behaviors? (such as speeding, traffic violations) and distracted driving. These volunteers were also directed to evaluate various risky driving scenarios and offer their possible reaction in a similar situation, as well as answer sleep-related questions.
The results: Those participants who scored in the lowest percentile (10 percent) of sleep habits were 2.8 times more likely to have a collision compared to those drivers who landed in the top 10 percent. McKenna suggests that poor sleep habits can greatly alter a driver?s attention span.
?It is clear that sleep hygiene, a measure that has no direct connection with driving, nevertheless, is able to predict crash involvement,? he writes in the European Review of Applied Psychology. ?In other words, those factors that inhibit sleep quantity and or sleep quality may have important consequences for our abilities to stay safe on the road.?
Study number two comes from Stockholm University, which divided their 47 volunteers in two groups ? the group who had a full night?s sleep and the group who was plugging along at only four hours of sleep. The following day, everyone was tested in a lab for sleepiness, sustained attention, and fitness to drive. And as expected, those lacking in shut-eye much lower in all areas.
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