Car crashes are sadly an everyday occurrence. But like all accidents, sometimes they can be avoided. Our lives are becoming increasingly busy, and we don’t always get the rest that we need to recharge and cope with the demands of our modern world. It is estimated that in recent years on Queensland roads, one in seven deaths was related to tiredness. Some of these deaths and serious injuries certainly could have been avoided if fatigued drivers had not been on the road. We can all take action to address these frightening statistics and make sure that we are responsible for developing better habits around sleep and rest.
The Brain is affected by sleep deprivation
A few mid-afternoon yawns are not the only problem with sleep deprivation, the way the brain functions is actually altered. If we don’t get adequate rest, our brain will compensate by slowing down the body’s movement and information processing. The brain is trying to achieve a sleep state. This slowing down process manifests itself by:
- drifting from lane to lane
- missing turns and exits
- memory loss – not remembering the last kilometres driven
- mood changes and increased irritability
Reaction times and decision making are affected when the brain is deprived of sleep as information is processed at a slower speed. It just takes a split second for a crash to happen, and if reactions are delayed, this is more likely to occur. Our brains need to be working at top speed so that we can make the best decisions on the road.
If you have been involved in an accident as a result of fatigue or sleep deprivation and need to make a claim,Cairns Compensation Lawyers can advise you on the law and the claims process.
When to Take Action
It is essential to watch out for the early symptoms of fatigue while driving and take action. If you feel yourself yawning frequently and ‘slow’ blinking, it’s time to stop before an accident happens. The recommended thing to do if you are alone is to pull over in a safe spot and nap for at least 15 minutes. A 30-minute nap will actually reverse the effects of poor sleep.
If you are driving on a road trip with other people, make sure that the driving is shared, and that the drivers take turns every couple of hours. The passengers then can also take the opportunity to rest when not behind the wheel. Be observant too, if you see that the driver is fatiguing, ask them to pull over and let someone else take over, it could save a life.
Do You Need Better Sleep?
If you find that you are fatigued behind the wheel, it is vital to prioritise sleep. There are so many things that can get in the way of sufficient sleep (at least 7-8 hours a night) – work, stress, family and social commitments, but with a few changes, better sleeping habits can be established.
- Sleep conditions and the bedroom environment are essential – make sure that your mattress and pillow are comfortable, the temperature is cool and pleasant, and noise and light are at a minimum. Your sleep space should feel like a sanctuary of calm
- Eat well- Foods that are high in Vitamin B6 such as fish, chickpeas and bananas are recommended. Vitamin B6 is used to make melatonin, a hormone that aids the sleep cycle. Foods rich in calcium will also help, so that warm glass of milk before bed will make you feel sleepier. Avoid heavy, rich and fatty foods late at night as they will make you feel uncomfortable and interfere with the natural sleep process.
- A regular routine at bedtime – establishing a pattern of enjoyable activities before sleep can be very relaxing, such as a warm drink, a bath, breathing exercises or reading.
If you have been involved in a road accident as a result of fatigue, Cairns Compensation Lawyers can help advise you on how the legal claims process works and making a claim.
Cairns Compensation Lawyers is part of Preston Law, a locally owned and operated law firm