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Sleeping with your eyes open while driving?

Researchers at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute in Massachusetts estimate that about 250,000 Americans drive while sleep deprived everyday, and according to the National Highway Safety Administration, about 6,000 people are killed each year by an exhausted driver. That’s only second to drunk driving fatalities!

Experts say that you need about 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your judgement and memory can be impaired, and you may even find yourself snoozing throughout the day uncontrollably! What’s worse than that is an insidious phenomenon called microsleep. Microsleeping is a brief transition between sleeping and wakefulness. It can last from a few seconds up to 30 seconds and you may not even realize it.

An ABC reporter did an experiment with the institute just outside of Boston. He mimicked sleep deprivation by staying awake for 32 hours straight. Then he and some of the research scientists got into a van and prepared for him to drive on a closed track for about 2 hours. The reporter explained how he thought he would feel fine as he had done many all-nighters before. However, he wasn’t even able to stay fully awake after 10 minutes of driving. His eyes stayed open, but the monitors

Photo By: Jace
Found through “free to use and share” on Google images

attached to his brain detected that he was microsleeping. After 20 minutes into the driving, he found himself driving on the grasses off of the track and immediately turned the wheel back onto the track.

Once the experiment was over, the researchers told him that he had fallen asleep a total of 22 times for about 6 seconds each time. 6 seconds may not sound like a lot, but think about not looking at the road while driving for 6 seconds–the possibility of an accident increases tremendously!  Fortunately the experiment was done in a controlled environment while the driver was going only about 15 to 20 mph. Think about all the people who drive sleep deprived everyday while driving with speeds up to 70 mph! Yes, caffeine can help keep you alert, but only for a short period of time. There’s nothing that can replace a good night’s sleep, wouldn’t you agree?


Find more information on microsleeping:


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  1. henroids

    This is a real problem that needs to be taken seriously. There is even a law called “Maggie’s Law” that states “a sleep-deprived driver qualifies as a reckless driver who can be convicted of vehicular homicide.” Driving drowsy impairs judgement, slows reaction time,
    impairs coordination and increases aggressiveness.

    Read more about driving drowsy and Maggie’s Law at:

  2. hannahbanana

    Drivers can be tired and then add other distractions like playing with the navigation, talking on a bluetooth phone, having a sip of a drink, or even illegal activity like texting this does not equal a safe road!!! A lot of times with driving people think certain accidents and mistakes won’t happen to them. Recently, I heard a remarkable woman speak about her experience with a distracted driver.
    Here is a link to something she wrote.

  3. explodingllama342

    This is a very serious issue. In addition to gadgets, the proper diet and hydration is key to staying alert and safe.

  4. evolucious

    While the majority of the population only needs 7-8 hours of sleep, teens need even more! Because the bio-regulatory factors for sleeping and waking undergo changes during adolescence, most teens should get 9+ hours of sleep. This article goes further in depth:

  5. sayrest4

    On top of falling asleep at the wheel, lack of sleep can impair eye-steering coordination. This means that one’s ability to steer properly is lessened. So even if you aren’t asleep at the wheel, you can still be in danger from lack of sleep.

  6. jk1234

    Driving accidents are a huge problem in the world today. Along with drunk driving and exhausted driving, distracted driving has become very prevalent. With all the gadgetry available to us today it is hard to not be distracted behind the wheel.

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