We’ve all done it. We’ve stayed up all night cramming for a final exam. We’ve stared at our bedroom ceiling until dawn, anxious about our big job interview the next day. We may think a sleepless night shows academic or professional dedication. And there’s nothing really wrong with that.
If you want to stay up all night preparing for your sales pitch, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t drive yourself to work the following day. While your lack of sleep won’t elevate your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the effects are just as serious.
A recent study published by the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that if you’re deprived of sleep for just 17 hours, the impact on your body is equivalent to a BAC of 0.05 percent. (A BAC of 0.08 is the level of legal intoxication.) With increased sleep deprivation, your level of impairment worsens—and your ability to operate a vehicle becomes increasingly compromised.
Is this really a problem?
While much of the media coverage warns of the dangers of drunk driving or distracted driving, drowsy driving is actually a leading cause of injury and death on U.S. roads. Fatigued drivers cause an estimated 100,000 crashes per year.
What are the warning signs?
If you notice any of the following symptoms while behind the while, you’re likely too fatigued to drive safely:
- Drooping eyelids or frequent blinking
- Nodding head
- Frequent yawning or eye rubbing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering the last few miles you’ve driven
- Missing your exit or failing to notice a traffic sign
- Displaying inattentiveness, such as veering out of your lane
Don’t let your lack of sleep lead to tragedy on the road. If you’re insufficiently rested, get a ride to work.