Lacking sleep is like being drunk

Did you know that a person who has been awake for 17-19 hours drives similarly to a person with a blood alcohol content of .05%.

In a study published on 2000 in the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, scientists in Australia and New Zealand report that sleep deprivation can have some of the identical dangerous consequences as being drunk.

Getting less than 6 hours sleep can affect sychronisation, response time and common sense, they said, posing “a very critical risk.”

Drivers are particularly vulnerable, the researchers warned. They found that people who drive after being awake for 17 to 19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent. That’s the legal limit for drunk driving in most western European countries, though most U.S. states set their blood alcohol limits at .1 percent and a few at .08 percent.

The study said 16 to 60 percent of road accidents involve sleep deprivation. The researchers said countries with drunk driving laws should consider similar rules against sleep-deprived driving.

The British Medical Association warned that there are other problems associated with sleep deprivation beyond impaired motor skills. People who get too little sleep may have higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and may take unnecessary risks.

And the dangers aren’t limited to drivers. People who work long shifts or night shifts, such as medical personnel or other emergency workers, may also have troubles.


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