Doctor Says Teens Need More Sleep than Adults—Especially before Driving

A Middle Tennessee-based neurology doctor specializing in sleep medicine says that teens need more than one extra hour of sleep per night compared to adults, and statistics show that sleep-deprived teens are more likely to be involved in auto accidents compared to teens who get enough rest at night.

Per a report by WKRN.com, teens need between 8.5 and 9.25 hours of sleep per night, while adults need around 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Teens who are experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation have around a 33 percent increased risk of being involved in a crash, and teen and young adult males under the age of 25 have the highest risk of getting behind the wheel while sleepy, fatigued, or drowsy.

The neurology doctor also stated that drowsy driving among teens is a major public safety issue, and that studies have shown that driving while sleepy can have similar effects on the body and mind as driving while under the influence of alcohol.

She went on to say that parents can and should watch for warning signs in their children that can indicate sleep deprivation, which can include frequent yawning, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

Facts about Drowsy Driving

The National Sleep Foundation found that around 60 percent of adult drivers in the U.S.—which amounts to around 168 million people—say that they have gotten behind the wheel of a car while suffering from sleepiness or drowsiness in the past year.

Shockingly, 37 percent of respondents said that they have fallen asleep while behind the wheel. And around four percent of drivers admitted to being involved in accidents or nearly being involved in accidents due to drowsiness.

It’s clear that drowsy driving is exceptionally dangerous, and all drivers should know these facts about this epidemic:

  • The NHTSA estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are due to drowsiness every year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a database of crashes and crash causes, and sleep deprivation is estimated to be responsible for around 100,000 wrecks every year. However, because it’s difficult for law enforcement to determine if drivers who caused wrecks were sleep deprived, the actual number may be much higher.

  • Men, adults with children, and shift workers are the most likely to drive while sleepy.

56 percent of men reported driving while sleepy compared to 45 percent of women. In addition, around 22 percent of men who drove drowsy reported falling asleep, while only 12 percent of women reported it. In addition, 59 percent of adults with children reported driving while sleepy compared to 45 percent of adults without children, and 36 percent of shift workers drive while suffering from sleep deprivation compared to 25 percent of standard-shift workers.

 

  • Even moderate levels of sleep deprivation can mimic the effects of alcohol consumption.

Researchers in Australia found that drivers who were awake for 18 hours experienced physical and mental impairments that were comparable to those experienced by people with BACs of .05. After 24 hours of being awake, the impairments were comparable to people with BACs of .10—around .02 percent above the legal limit in Tennessee.

  • Drivers are aware of the dangers associated with drowsy driving, but many do it anyway.

A recent survey found that 97 percent of respondents agreed that driving while sleepy was “unacceptable” and a threat to safety, but around one-third of drivers still admit to doing it—with some saying they drove in the past month so sleep deprived that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open.

The best way to keep your teen safe is to set good examples for him or her to follow. Always try to get a full 8 hours of sleep, and encourage your teen to finish homework and complete any tasks for the next day several hours before bedtime. In addition, make sure your teen knows what to do if he or she becomes drowsy behind the wheel, including stopping their vehicle in a safe location and taking a brief nap or waiting for someone to pick him or her up.

If you or your teen were injured in an accident that was caused by a negligent driver—including one that was sleep-deprived—you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation. The Nashville auto accident attorneys at Matt Hardin Law know the dangers that drivers can pose to themselves and others when they get behind the wheel while drowsy, and we also know how to build successful claims. Get in touch with us today. Dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.

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