07 Mar 2013
- Written by Dr. Timothy Moore
If you're suffering from insomnia, or just can't get enough rest, you should avoid getting behind the steering wheel. Your instincts may not be as sharp as you think they are. And then, too, there may be other drivers on the road who're just as drowsy, or even asleep, behind the wheel. Either way, a collision is waiting to happen.
We spend a third of our lives asleep, which our body needs in order to function properly. Imagine how long you would be able to survive without the right amount of oxygen. If oxygen is essential for survival, then a lack of sleep can be just as deadly.
After studying 150,000 adults ages 18 and older, the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention noted that 4.2 percent reported falling asleep while driving at least one time during the previous 30 days.
Tens of thousands of people are not getting the proper rest and rely on coffee and drugs to help them stay alert. This practice actually causes coffee drinkers and drug users to become drowsier and irritated. Many of them may actually lose control of their sense of wellbeing. This condition is caused by sleep deprivation.
Accidents happen every day. Many of these drivers have admitted to being fatigued or asleep. Another problem is texting while driving. Together, these two situations can cause wreckage and, in many cases, death. Falling asleep at the wheel is tantamount to drinking alcohol and doing drugs. It impairs your thinking and lulls you to sleep.
Some people actually believe they can get by with less sleep, but I beg to differ. Everybody needs to sleep. Adults need anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a day, but many of them get only 3 to 5 hours of sleep a night. Some people rely on sleeping pills to fall sleep and may not realize that some of these drugs may produce zombies.
Could insomnia and sleep deprivation derive from an illness? In some cases, an emotional upheaval – such as the death of a loved one, a relationship breakup or an unexpected job loss – can cause sleep deprivation. Children badgering their parents for money can cause stress and the inability to sleep as well. This could be temporary or last for weeks until the problems are dealt with and resolved.
There are some proven ways to help you get a good night sleep, if you put them into practice. One of these is reading before going to bed. But be careful to avoid certain content that could challenge your mind while you're sleeping. A favorite or pleasant book tends to relax the mind, which causes drowsiness. In most cases, we will awake with the book across our chest.
Another way to relax the body and mind is to exercise. Physical activity replenishes cells and helps the body heal itself. It is important not to exercise too strenuously as our bodies need a chance to cool down. An hour or so before our intended bedtime is desirable.
To ensure a good night sleep, establish a bedtime schedule or routine. Turn off the cellphone and shut down both Facebook and Twitter pages, without succumbing to the urge to make just one more post. Also, eat a well-balanced diet. Make sure you finish your dinner or meal hours before going to bed. This will give your body time to digest the food.
Also, before bedtime, try to avoid stimulants, such as chocolate, caffeine, cigarettes and sodas. They can confuse the brain and keep it wired even at bedtime. In most cases, it will be difficult for you to fall asleep. So start listening to your body. You don't want to cause harm to yourself or to someone else just because you didn't get enough sleep.
Remember, you must get the proper rest if you want a healthy mind and body. If your eyes are blurry, heavy or become watery, you may need to pull over or stay home – for the life you save may be your own.