Excerpt of Article by Beth Weinhouse | Readers Digest
Traffic accidents related to fatigue are disturbingly common. They tend to make headlines either when the fatalities are very high or when there is a celebrity involved, as with the accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan last June. The truck driver involved in Morgan’s accident is being charged with vehicular homicide, and the prosecutor alleges that the driver was awake for more than 24 hours preceding the crash. (The driver, who has pleaded not guilty, denies that he was sleep-deprived.) The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that fatigue contributes to as many as a quarter of all transportation accidents—whether car, bus, truck, train, or plane.
That statistic sounds shocking, but experts have known the truth for years: The nation is in the midst of a sleep crisis. In fact, in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared insufficient sleep a public health epidemic—a warning on par with those released about tobacco decades ago. “Sleep-deprived is the new normal, like smoking was in the 1950s,” says Russell Sanna, PhD, former executive director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, everyone, with few exceptions, needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night in order for the body and mind to function optimally. But a CDC survey found that more than a third of adults reported less than seven hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period. Other experts believe the numbers are even more alarming. “Some of the latest polls show that nearly three quarters of the adult population is not getting the recommended amount of sleep,” says James Maas, PhD, former chair of the psychology department at Cornell University and author of Sleep for Success.
Thanks to Beth Weinhouse for wiring the article; Readers Digest for commiting its resources to publishing the article; the National Sleep Foundation for contributing to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.