Maybe you are stressed or preoccupied or overwhelmed with responsibilities and not sleeping well or not sleeping enough. I’m learning that even small deficits of sleep can wreak havoc with your memory - performance on the job - driving skills - health. We know that if you learn a task right before going to sleep - it will imprint far better than learning it earlier on in the day. Try and operate on less than the optimal amount of sleep - even just one day - and you will somehow pay for it.
Of course we’ll try and outsmart the situation and use what I call “counter measures.” Things like caffeine, bright light, exercise - to rev up our motors and get us feeling like we can function optimally. But if we have a couple to several days of sleep deficit, then we are likely to begin to experience things like micro - sleeps. And that can be a recipe for disaster.
Typically you’ll experience a micro-sleep when you are driving on lack of sleep and you have a couple of second lapse of consciousness. You know the story and it isn’t pretty - you drift over in a lane - wake up to the screech of tires and sometimes a horrible crash and multiple victims. These micro-sleeps can even occur with your eyes wide open. And though you think if you nurse a cup of java - throw open the window and let in cold air - slap your face a bit - you will stave off these micro - sleeps, in all liklihood if you are really tired, you won’t and tragedy can happen.
So please, please don’t ever drive if you feel you are in the slightest bit compromised due to lack of sleep. Assume that you are a danger to your self and others and save lives by choosing another way to get to your destination.
Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”