Sleep Disorders | Sleep Review
People who have non-traditional working hours such as 11 pm to 7 am or the “cemetery shift” and who develop a sleep disorder while working shifts are three times more likely to be involved in a vehicle accident. This comes from the point of view of researchers at the University of Missouri, who published their results in the journal Safety Science.
“This discovery has many important implications, including the need to identify technical countermeasures to prevent these crashes,” said Praveen Edara, PhD, department head and professor of civil and environmental engineering, in a press release. Such measures may include the availability of rest areas on the freeway, roadside and in-vehicle messages to improve a driver’s alertness, and how drivers who may be on night shifts are encouraged to use other modes of transport, including public transport or rides-share services. “
The analysis was based on data collected from a real-world driving study for the second Strategic Highway Research Program established by the US Congress.
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Edara was surprised to see that insomnia when working shifts increased the risk of a traffic accident by almost 300% compared to sleep apnea and insomnia, both of which increased the risk of accidents by about 30%.
According to Edara, previous studies have shown that insomnia increases the risk of a traffic accident. However, most of these studies were conducted in a controlled environment such as a laboratory driving simulator. He believes these real-world data now confirm these efforts.
“In the past, researchers have mainly studied sleep disorders in a controlled environment using test tracks and driving simulators,” says Edara. “Our study goes one step further and actually uses observed crash and near-crash data from approximately 2,000 events in six US states. We have known for some time that sleep disorders increase the risk of accidents, but here we can quantify that risk using real-world accident data, taking into account confusing variables such as road and traffic characteristics. “
Edara said the limitations of her study included the lack of data on fatal accidents and no formal measurement to define drowsiness.
Edara hopes that by showing the magnitude of the risk of road accidents caused by excessive daytime sleepiness, the researchers can draw additional attention to finding ways to ensure the safety of the people behind the wheel, including removing the driver from the equation with driving behavior. Approval options and automated vehicles. He says the ideal next step in this research would be working with health professionals who have expertise in the field to better understand why this is happening.
“We want to work with public health and medical professionals who have expertise in sleep-related research to better understand why this is happening,” says Edara. “In this way, we can also examine what countermeasures we can develop and test to improve the general safety of these drivers and the other drivers around them.”
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