November is a great time to talk about drowsy driving. Days are shorter, holidays are in high gear, and we have added stresses of term papers and exams. Let’s face it – we’re tired and running near empty most of the time. So, it’s more important than ever to get enough sleep. Drowsydriving.org reports that one in seven licensed drivers ages 16-24 admitted to nodding off behind the wheel at least once in the past year as compared to one in ten of all licensed drivers who have said they have fallen asleep while driving. That is a lot of nodding drivers!
So, what can we do about it? The obvious answer is to get more sleep. Most teens need 9.25 hours of sleep a night, so make it a rule and habit to turn off electronics and the lights by 10:30pm, then bump it to 10pm, then 9:45pm. That way, if you have to wake up by 7am you will get plenty of sleep. If you need to wake up earlier, then get to bed earlier. Not every teen needs this much sleep, so you can make changes so it’s right for you, but don’t get any less than 8.5 hours of sleep a night. You need at least this much.
Think you are getting enough sleep? Here are some ways to tell you need more when you:
- Have difficulty focusing, blink frequently and/or have heavy eyelids
- Daydream a lot
- Have trouble keeping your head up
- Yawn repeatedly
If you know you are sleep deprived, then ask for help from parents or friends who can give you a ride. Just don’t get behind the wheel yourself. Especially when you’ve had several nights of little sleep or have been up for many hours. Think of the sleep deficit you are in by the end of they week. Try making plans for Saturday instead of Friday night so you can catch up on sleep.
Let’s be safe out there and let your friends know about drowsy driving. It’s a real threat and a real danger. Keep our drive alive!