Fatal Tracy Morgan car accident shines light on the importance of sleep

Source: Greater Media News
The six-car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike June 7 that killed one man and critically injured three others, including popular comedian and TV star Tracy Morgan, brought to light a serious national health issue “Drowsy Driving.”
According to media reports, the truck driver charged with causing the crash may not have slept for 24 hours at the time of the crash. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. And as tragic as these numbers are, they only tell a portion of the story.

No matter what your profession, sleep is important, but especially for those who drive for a living.

Here are other reasons to get your rest:
Better health. Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t guarantee good health but studies find a link between insufficient sleep and serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Better sex life. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, up to 26 percent of people say their sex lives suffer because they’re just too tired.
Less pain. If you have chronic or acute pain, getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and lower pain threshold.
Better mood. Getting enough sleep doesn’t guarantee a sunny disposition but when you’re exhausted, you’re more inclined to be cranky. When you’re overtired, you’re more likely to snap at your boss, burst into tears, or start laughing uncontrollably.
Better weight control. Getting enough sleep helps you maintain your weight. Sleep loss increases the risk of weight gain. If you’re overtired, you may not have the energy to go to the gym or prepare a healthy dinner. The hormone leptin, which plays a key role in making you feel full, drops when you don’t get enough sleep. People who are tired are just plain hungrier and seem to crave high-fat and high-calorie foods.
Clearer thinking. Sleep loss impairs cognition, attention and decision-making skills. Studies have found that sleep-deprived people are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they’re well-rested.
Better memory. Feeling forgetful? Sleep loss could be to blame. Our brains process and consolidate our memories from the day while we sleep.Without enough sleep, those memories might not get stored correctly and can be lost.
Stronger immunity. Could getting enough sleep prevent the common cold? One study indicates that people who get less than seven hours of sleep a night were almost three times as likely to get sick as people who got at least eight hours of sleep a night. More research is needed but you can’t go wrong getting eight hours of sleep when possible.
Live longer? Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illness may affect sleep patterns too.) In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours of sleep per night. Sleep also affects our quality of life.

Written by Dr. David Goldstein, medical director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Old Bridge location. This state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment center provides the highest quality care for adults and children under the direction of board certified sleep physicians. To schedule a consultation, call 732-360-4255, or take the quiz at http://rbmcsleepcenter.org to see if you could benefit from a sleep study.

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