Are you ‘sleep-drunk’ at the wheel?

How to get a good night’s sleep to be a safe, responsible road user

The idea of setting out on the road after consuming more than the legal drink-drive limit is, no doubt, enough to fill you with horror.

But how many times have you set out on the school run or work commute after only a couple of hours’ sleep?

RAC Foundation research shows that around one in five accidents on major roads are sleep-related – and such accidents are more likely to result in a fatality or major injury.

A Stanford University study found that people who were tired because of disrupted sleep performed as poorly as people who were legally drunk (1999), while the National Sleep Foundation reported in SLEEP that sleep deprivation can impact on your ability to make split-second decisions – absolutely critical to safe driving.

Just like alcohol, drowsiness impairs judgement, so you may not necessarily know how impaired you are when bundling the kids into the back seat, or tossing your briefcase in the passenger foot well – ready to motor off to that conference.

It isn’t only long-distance drivers who need to beware before they buckle up: for your safety, that of your passengers and that of other road users, it’s vital that you take steps to improve the quality of your sleep, and sleep for longer before setting out on even the shortest of journeys.

Follow the advice of our Sleep Experts:

Tackle nagging pain – Anyone who suffers with back pain, muscle tension or poor circulation knows that achieving good-quality sleep can feel nigh-on impossible. The answer is to invest in a well-crafted, supportive mattress that is going to naturally align your spine, cushion your lumbar region, skim beautifully over tired joints and promote circulation so you can wake up refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to safely step behind the wheel.

Prepare for the following day – Package up school lunches; find coats, shoes and homework; pack your work bag and research your route if you’re planning on driving someplace new. The more you can do the night before, which prevents you from having to set your alarm super-early, the longer you will be able to spend in bed.

Cut back on alcoholic drinks – If you enjoy unwinding with a glass or two of wine, make sure it’s not on an empty stomach and that you take your last drink at least three to four hours before you plan to go to bed. Any later than that, and you are going to lose out on the deeper restorative phase of sleep, which will leave you tired the next day.

Develop a healthy pre-bedtime routine – Whether that’s gentle exercise, such as yoga; taking a warm bath; reading a great book, or even indulging your creative side with an adult colouring book, find a task that helps you to gradually unwind. Swap caffeinated drinks for milky alternatives, and snack on sleep-promoting health foods, such as cherries and wholegrain cereals.

Ban technology from the bedroom – Lights out includes turning off all your mobile devices: the glow omitted from smartphones, tablets and TVs plays havoc with the body’s natural body clock – disrupting your sleep patterns and promoting wakefulness, which is the enemy of restorative sleep. Leave your mobile devices downstairs or turned off.

Clear your mind – Keep a notepad by your bed and make a list of things you will tackle the next day to clear them from your head. Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, takes this one step further – writing down three things he wants to accomplish the next day.

Positive start to the day – When your alarm goes off, get up – no hitting ‘snooze’. Make your bed to signal to your brain: ‘This is no longer a place to sleep’. Drink water to boost your metabolism and take a shower; eat a light breakfast.

If, after all this, you still do not feel properly awake, find an alternative way to travel: walk the children to school, or take the bus; car share with a colleague, or catch the train.

You would not drink and drive, so do not drive when you are too tired to be a safe, responsible road user.

Image Copyright of Shutterstock

Land of Beds are proud sponsors of the Rotary Club’s Cheshire Motor Show 2016, taking place on Sunday 31 July at Frodsham Community Centre. Come and meet our Sleep Experts, try your luck at winning a luxury sleep bundle and try out mattresses from our Frodsham Showroom.

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