How Much Sleep Do You Need to Operate a Vehicle?

How much sleep deprivation is too much? Everyone skips a few hours here and there, but too much sleep deprivation can not only wreak havoc on your own health but can be downright dangerous for those around you.

Earlier this week, celebrity Tracy Morgan was severely injured in a car crash. It was recently discovered that the truck driver, whose truck hit Morgan’s bus, had not slept in 24 hours prior to the crash. The driver failed to notice traffic slowing in front of him and did not brake, causing him to crash into the 30 Rock star’s bus. The actor was injured severely and declared to be in critical condition.

The accident caused some safety analysts to ask the question, what is the connection between sleep deprivation and dangerous driving?

Safety analyst and former U.S. Transportation Department inspector general Mary Schiavo argues that driving while sleep deprived is more dangerous than most people suspect. “Being sleep has effects on the body worse than being drunk,” Schiavo asserts. She cited a study from Harvard medical School performed in 2012, which found that “drowsy driving” causes approximately 1 million car crashes each year in the United States.

Schiavo went on to note that sleep deprived truck drivers alone are responsible for about 4,000 highway deaths a year. Truck drivers work on average 80 hours a week. “It’s impossible to make up for that sleep. You just can’t catch up for that punishing schedule,” Schiavo adds.

So, how many hours of sleep do you need to ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you?

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers sleep guidelines divided by age, which recommend the approximate amount of sleep you need to feel sharp, focused, and healthy.

  • Infants require about 16 to 18 hours of sleep per day per day
  • Preschool age children need 11 to 12 hours of sleep per day
  • School-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep per day
  • Teens need a minimum of 9 hours of sleep per day
  • Adults and seniors need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day

Are you getting enough sleep?


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