Luckily this weekend’s time change is a bit easier for us to handle than the dreaded “Spring Forward,” but we’ll still need a few days to get accustomed to more dark hours and being sleepy. There was a time when people would wake at sunup and go to bed at dark, but now we live by the clock, which makes time adjustments even tougher.
We’ve told you guys before that most of you need about 9.25 hours of sleep per night to function best. This is not true for everyone, but, nonetheless, we do know most teens don’t get enough sleep. It’s also natural for your sleep cycles to be tired later (about 11:00pm) and wake later. So, during the week when you are in school, if you don’t go to bed until 11pm, then have to wake up at 6:30, you’re only getting 7.5 hours of sleep each night. On this schedule, by the weekend, you can be behind 8.75 hours of sleep!
Not getting enough sleep can limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems, which can also affect your driving. Being awake for 20 hours is equal to being legally drunk, as far as reactions times, concentration and impaired vision. Along with this, young drivers have a higher risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year.
What you can do to get more sleep:
- Take advantage of the extra hour in the time change. Feeling tired at 10:00? Then go ahead and hit the rack. You can use the extra rest
- Go to bed when you feel sleepy. When you push yourself to stay up, you can get a second wind and end up awake for many more hours
- Turn off the screens – tv, phone and computer light signal the brain it is time to be awake
- Establish your sleep times and stick with it. Make rest a priority
- Don’t eat, drink or do homework right before bedtime. Stick to quiet, calm activities and a routine, such as a shower or reading to signal your mind it is time to fall asleep
- Naps can be great as long as you don’t sleep too long or right before bedtime
What can you do to stay safe behind the wheel:
It’s important to recognize when you are too tired to drive. Difficulty focusing, heavy eyelids, daydreaming, drifting out of your lane, yawning and feeling restless or aggressive are all signs of being drowsy and time to pull over and take a break to wake up or take a nap.
Before you drive, consider whether you are:
- Sleep-deprived or fatigued (6 hours of sleep or less triples your risk)
Suffering from sleep loss (insomnia) or poor quality sleep
Driving long distances without proper rest breaks
Driving through the night or when you would normally be asleep
Taking medications that make you tired (cold tablets, antihistamines)
Studying a lot or attending more activities than usual, which may be decreasing your sleep time
Driving alone or on a long, rural, dark or boring road. It’s much safer to take along a passenger to help you stay awake
Tips taken from drowsydriving.org>
Get more tips on nighttime driving>
Read about teens and sleep>