Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Jobs and School are Important, but Beware the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

If you've got a job while attending school, that's money in your pocket. Congratulations! Work is an important step toward independence and learning time management skills, leadership and patience. These are valuable skills that you can't learn in school.

However, if you are driving to work or back home -- sometimes late after a long, tiring shift -- you run a much greater risk of being inattentive behind the wheel, or even falling asleep! Two-thirds of drowsy driving crashes involve drivers under 30, with males outnumbering females five-to-one.

Usually a combination of overscheduled lives and natural sleep patterns are to blame. Teens, in particular, tend to feel awake later in the evening, meaning they often go to bed too late and get the sleep they need on weekdays. Practice-weary athletes, students juggling classes and jobs, and straight-A overachievers are among those most likely to drive when they are overly tired.

Many students cram for important exams late into the night or early morning, and can be fatigued the next day after the adrenaline (and caffeine) wear off. This can be a dangerous situation when they attempt to drive after they get through the stress of the test.

To help ensure that you stay awake between "Drive" and "Park", sleep experts at the National Sleep Foundation urge you to cultivate good sleep habits. That includes a regular bedtime, no electronics at least 30 minutes before bed, no caffeine after lunchtime, and an understanding that it's OK to say no sometimes to new commitments.

Signs of sleep deprivation in teens include regular naps of more than 45 minutes, relying on caffeine to wake up and stay awake during the day, and sleeping two or more hours later on weekends than on weekdays. If you find yourself nodding off during the day, you're overdoing it and need to work on easing up on your schedule. You don't want to end up in an accident.

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