Tired night-shift workers are at greater risk of vehicular accidents.
Researchers had 16 night-shift workers take a test drive after work in a new study.
More than one-third were involved in near-crashes. In the study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same drivers had no near-crashes after getting sufficient sleep the night before the test.
“It reveals just how dangerous it is to drive home after working all night,” says study co-author Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It also shows that these very same people, if they slept the previous night, don’t have any of these incidents, so it’s not that they’re inherently dangerous drivers.”
Czeisler and his colleagues studied night-shift workers who completed a pair of two-hour driving sessions on a closed track. Before one of the sessions, participants slept an average of 7.6 hours the previous night and did not work the night shift. Before the other driving session, the same participants worked the night shift.
“This type of research is really important because we have two pillars of health right now: diet and exercise,” Dr. Nitun Verma, spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told the HealthDay news service. “It’s reaffirming there’s a third pillar of health, which is sleep.”