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Updated on December 5, 2014

It is as bad as texting and driving at the same time, and it does kill more people than drunk drivers! For some reason, falling asleep behind the wheel has never been considered bad enough to create a law against it. You see them every morning! Cup of coffee on hand, and trying to keep awake in traffic while going to work. The zombies who no one notices, because they just go with the flow, trying to keep their eyes opened.

However, the old saying: "The car is moving, but there is no one behind the wheel" wasn't created only for empty headed individuals, it also referres to those who suffer from a serious sleep deprivation, enough to turn them into potential criminals, if they get involved in a vehicular homicide.

Jails and prisons are full of them, of all ages, races and genders. It happens in a matter of seconds, and it ruins people's lives.. forever. Especially if you work "the grave shift" or midnight shift, please read this.

Statistics are boring, but in this case maybe you might want to know how a sleepy driver can snatch the life of a loved one, or maybe your own life. According to studies approximately 1 out of 6 car accidents fatalities, are caused by sleep deprivation.

On August last year, I lost someone I love because someone felt asleep behind the wheel, and crossed his path making his vehicle crashed against a tree. They never found the driver who unexpectedly crossed lanes and caused the accident, but I have the feeling that this driver wasn't drunk but just sleepy, by the way he/she amazingly corrected the course of his vehicle.

Whoever this person was, could have been one of the 250,000 drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel every year in America, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Their investigation in this matter has concluded that sleep deprivation causes the three fatal factors for a deadly crash: Coordination impairment, longer reaction times, and judgement impairment. They also concluded that these accidents usually occur in the early morning hours, or early afternoon.

The accident where the love of my life died, occurred at 05:30 AM when he was on his way to work.

Some governments around the world have already reacted to this growing problem, by implementing new programs. In Australia, for example they offer free coffee to drivers, their program is called "Driver Reviver". Other governments are not that nice. In United Kingdom, for example a sleepy driver who causes the death of another in a car accident, knowing that he/she had sleep deprivation, and should not have been behind the wheel, is convicted at the same level as a drunk driver.

As a matter of fact studies have revealed that driving without 20 to 25 hours of sleep, has the same effect than driving with a blood-alcohol content level of 0.05 - 0.10 percent. Let's remember this level of alcohol, is enough to charge a driver with “driving under the influence” in many States of the US.


We all know that there is a pay differential when you work the night shift. That way the employee takes a little bit more pay home, while businesses and public agencies benefit of a 24 hour production time, without stopping for 12 hours so the employees can sleep on their beds all night. However, there is something implied on those "grave" shifts: You have to sleep when everyone else is awake, which means noise on the streets, the kids playing and crying at home, to comply with your obligations as parents and spouses, while you try to get "some" sleep whenever "you can".

I know this, because I was one of those zombies for 15 years when I was a cop. You learn to sleep standing up in the middle of a football game! However, you cannot train yourself to sleep. For years, I covered my windows with aluminum foil, to block the sunlight in my bedroom, I took sleeping pills, and I thought that 3 or 4 hours of sleep, were more than enough to keep me going. I was a "superhuman being", active parent, a devoted wife and a tough cop during the night, while everyone else was sleeping.

“I don't know how you can do it” my friends used to say to me, and honestly today I have no idea on how I held up 2 jobs, raising two kids, taking care of my husband needs, and I was still able to attend my martial arts classes every day. I needed more hours during the day!. However, trying to keep awake at night was a torture! It got to the point when I didn't even know when I was falling asleep!

I would pass out at the weirdest places, and while I was talking to people! One afternoon, coming back from work, someone knocked at my car window because I felt asleep at a red light! Yes, I was a sleep deprived driver. Sometimes, I didn't even remember how I got home!

Now that I think about it, I could have caused a terrible accident to others, and my own death.


If you have a job where you have to work extra hours without previous notice, after working the night shift, because “they are short on people, and they need you”, learn to say NO. Even if it will mean additional funds to you, nothing will replace the lack of sleep, especially if you have to go back to work that same night. I did it for years and I started noticing my health gradually deteriorating.

I read an article once about how important it is to sleep at least 8 hours at night. The article was written by a group of doctors and it stated: “Reduced production of growth hormone, which is only released in the deepest stage of sleep, is essential to repair and restore our body cells”. According to studies the reduction of certain hormones might result in losing muscle tone, and bone density".

Lack of sleep also means lack of energy, and therefore reduced activity due to a slow metabolism, resulting sometimes in obesity. Another consequence of a continuous sleep deprivation is an earlier aging promoting diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and eating disorders. In other words, the body is more vulnerable to be sick and weak a lot more often, than people who get the sleep they need.

Let's face it! Sleeping is as important as eating. It is a basic need and it should be a priority in your life. Our body was designed to rest at night, and to be active during the day. I used to think that I didn't need much sleep, and my days were longer and more productive, just because I was depriving my self of sleep, until it caught up with me. Today, I do suffer from every single health issue I mentioned above, except for obesity.

However, I do consider myself extremely lucky, thinking I could have got in a terrible accident or hurt someone else. So, whatever reason you have for not sleeping, believe me it is not worth it. Absolutely NOTHING can replace the cozy feeling of your head on your pillow, and cuddling between your sheets. Do yourself a huge favor, and just go to....Sleep!


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    • endenfin profile imageAUTHOR

      Lizzie Edenfield 

      5 years ago from Middleburg, Fl.

      So true! Thank you for your kind vote

    • Good Guy profile image

      Justin Choo 

      5 years ago from Malaysia

      Sleep is a natural requirement for us to rejuvenate. If we go against this natural need, we are asking for trouble. I am lucky that I am now retired and have more time to do what I like, including sleeping enough for my need.

      Voted up.


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