Health Watch - Sleep: Drowsy Driving

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, some reasons it may be difficult to rest and what you can do about it. Sleep isn’t just a luxury. It’s essential to good health, and if you don’t get enough sleep, there can be serious consequences.

Driving when you’re sleep-deprived can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Studies have shown that being awake for 24 hours straight has the same effect on reflexes, judgment and reaction time as being drunk. Dr. Nilesh Dave, medical director of the Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says if you feel drowsy while driving, pull over. A short nap and a cup of coffee can help revive you. But it’s best to prepare yourself by getting at least seven hours of sleep before driving. Also, avoid driving between midnight and 6 in the morning, when you’re more likely to be drowsy.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in sleep and breathing disorders.


January 2009

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