Today's News

Time to get serious about sleep loss

April 16, 2004
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Chronic sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders are a serious public health concern — and it is time to attack them with the same urgency as campaigns against smoking, drunk driving and obesity, experts said at a recent meeting on sleep and sleep disorders at the National Institutes of Health.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that 1 percent to 4 percent of highway crashes and 4 percent of fatal crashes are caused by sleepiness. Many sleep researchers think those numbers are too low.

"Sleepiness can kill you quick," said one expert. A driver who nods off at 60 mph can drift off the highway at a four-degree angle in less than four seconds, he said.

Drowsy driving represents perhaps the greatest risk to those who have inadequate sleep. Crashes linked to drowsy driving peak between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.

While there is increasing research evidence on the harmful effects of disturbed sleep, getting the word out beyond the lab has lagged, specialists said.

Surgeon General Richard Carmona told the conference: "Improving health literacy on sleep disorders is long overdue." Several participants called for a surgeon general's report on sleep and public health, comparable to the landmark report on smoking and health in 1964 that started to tip the balance of public opinion on tobacco use.

According to the conference organizers, 50 million to 70 million Americans suffer health consequences of sleep disorders, sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness each year, adding about $15 billion to the nation's healthcare bill and costing industry about $50 billion in lost productivity.

The groups at risk for sleep-related vehicle crashes include those who sleep fewer than six hours a day; young adult males ages 16 to 24; commercial drivers; night-shift workers; those driving after prolonged work hours, such as medical residents at hospitals, and patients with untreated sleep disorders.

Dr. Daniel Buysse, a University of Pittsburgh psychiatrist, said it is time for physicians to stop regarding insomnia as "a nuisance symptom." It is a disorder with real consequences, he said, including increased absenteeism at work, higher risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident and increased risk of cognitive decline in later years.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

11/4/14 2:00 pm EST

Eye Injuries: You rarely see them coming. Practical Solutions for reducing injuries to the eye.

The 3M Eye Injury Reduction webinar will provide an examination of how to help solve eye injuries in the workplace. This issue continues to challenge virtually every industry, and the solution is often times multifaceted. 3M will share some new tools and approaches to help you in solving this issue.

ISHN Magazine


2015 January

Check out ISHN's first issue of 2015, which features articles about hearing protection as well as the State of the EHS Nation 2015 Survey.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2015



For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. 



Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.