Zzz. March is National Sleep Month. Yawn. March 15 is World Sleep Day. Wake up! Italian-born actor Giacomo Gianniotti is working to raise awareness around the prevalent yet highly underreported issue of drowsy driving. Drowsy driving causes 100,000+ crashes every year. His campaign began just ahead of Daylight Saving Time on March 10, when many Americans lost an hour of sleep. Gianniotti has a personal connection to the cause with an incident of falling asleep behind the wheel 10 years ago, an experience that stays with him today.
Giacomo Gianniotti plays Dr. Andrew DeLuca on Greys Anatomy. Gianniotti’s character is a surgical resident at the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.
“Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy,” according to NHS.
“While the occasional bad night of sleep makes us feel tired and irritable, it will not affect us long term,” says sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor. Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and it’s the accumulation of poor rest that causes long term effects. The exact number of hours varies by person, but you should not wake up tired.
What is World Sleep day?
World Sleep Day is each year on the Friday before the vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring. In 2019, the vernal equinox is Wednesday, March 20. Sleep medicine professionals and researchers came up with the day to raise awareness that people were not making sleep an important enough priority in personal health and well-being in the 24/7 news cycle.
“It’s easy to forget just how important sleep is to the brain and body. Missing out on a good night’s sleep can leave you feeling groggy, but you might not realize why you feel that way, or what your brain is missing out on by skipping those extra hours of shut-eye,” reports Newsweek.
Super8 gives the following tips for preventing drowsy driving:
- Get a full night of seven to eight hours of sleep.
- Take a short nap before a long road trip to help make up for a short night’s sleep.
- Try to schedule stops every 100 miles or every two hours.
- Try to limit driving between midnight and 6 a.m. when tiredness is most intense.
- If possible, travel with a passenger who can talk to you and split the driving.
- Caffeine and sugar can provide short-term energy, but don’t rely on them for long stretches.
- Stay vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as crossing over roadway lines or hitting rumble strips.
- Stop driving if you notice that you’re dozing off. Pull over to a rest area for a break or get a hotel.
Experts recommend having a bedtime routine, controlling lighting and turning off screens, and meditation as steps for assuring good sleep. Netflix and chill, but in good lighting and not all night.
“As the use of screens increases, so does the number of studies looking at their effect on our health, with many finding that they could be to blame for a lack of sleep, particularly in children and teens,” reports News18.
It is better to use screens in well-lit rooms as those who use screens in the dark before bedtime are less likely to get enough sleep, and also get lower quality sleep.