How to prevent vehicle collisions by respecting sleep. It’s not something we spend a great deal of time thinking about. Many of us don’t consider the amount and quality of sleep we get. Basically, we don’t give sleep the respect it deserves. It’s a natural function after all and without it, our behaviour is unnatural. When we sleep, we’re in an anabolic state, we are being rebuilt.
Getting enough of the right quality sleep strengthens our immune system and who doesn’t need some of that right now. It also raises our energy levels and improves our brain function.
Government statistics suggest that around 20% of collisions on the road are due to fatigue. I think this might be the tip of the iceberg because of the fact that we are not respecting sleep as much as we should.
Some people wear the number of hours they are working like a badge of honour. But the more we work, the less we think straight. Losing sleep reduces the amount of glucose in our brain. This is why you reach for the carbs when you’re tired, I know I do!
This reduction in glucose level hits the parietal lobe and the pre frontal cortex hardest. Sleep deprivation results in a 14% reduction in glucose in those areas of the brain. This affects decision making, social control and telling the difference between right and wrong. These are just the characteristics you want to be at optimum levels in colleagues behind the wheel of a vehicle.
A study in The Lancet revealed that sleep deprived physicians made up to 20% more errors than their well rested counterparts. Making 20% more errors when we are driving is definitely inviting a collision.
Those of you involved with commercial vehicles will point out that tachographs control drivers’ hours but this is as much about the quality of sleep as it is about limiting the number of hours behind the wheel.
To be able to work and drive effectively and prevent collisions, we need to get better at respecting sleep. Step 1 is developing an evening schedule that promotes the chances of getting a good nights sleep. Watch out for future blogs and I’ll share a few ideas on sleep, fatigue and driving.
If you’re interested in improving the safety of your employees when they are driving for work, please get in touch with me at [email protected].