Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sleep problems and sleepiness increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents in adolescents

A study in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that sleepiness at the wheel and poor sleep quality significantly increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents in adolescents.

Results indicate that adolescent drivers were twice as likely to have had a crash if they experienced sleepiness while driving (adjusted odds ratio = 2.1) or reported having bad sleep (OR = 1.9). Eighty of the 339 students had already crashed at least once, and 15 percent of them considered sleepiness to have been the main cause of the crash. Fifty-six percent of students who had at least one previous crash reported driving while sleepy, compared with 35 percent of subjects who had not been in a crash.

Lead author Fabio Cirignotta, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Bologna in Italy, said that the only effective countermeasure to drowsiness is to stop driving immediately, pull over to a safe place and nap for 10 to15 minutes.

"Commonly used countermeasures to fatigue, such as opening the window, listening to the radio, or drinking a coffee, are known to be short-lasting and, essentially, useless," said Cirignotta. "Moreover, if a subject perceives sleepiness, he or she would probably already have a reduced performance at the wheel, and nobody can safely detect the real instant when sleep is starting in order to stop driving at that time."

This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2004 and was supported by the Italian Ministry of Education. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to 339 students who had a driver's license and were in their last two years of attendance at one of seven high schools in Bologna. Students were between the ages of 18 and 21 years (mean 18.4 years), and 58 percent of them were male.

Questions concerned lifestyle habits, nocturnal sleep habits, symptoms suggesting sleep disorders, and a subjective report of daytime sleepiness. Driving habits and sleepiness at the wheel were evaluated by questions assessing the frequency and timing of car use and accidents, the perceived causes of vehicle crashes and the respondents' coping methods for dealing with sleepiness while driving.

Results show that students suffered from chronic sleep deprivation. Although they reported that their sleep need was a mean of 9.2 hours per night, the students reported sleeping for an average of only 7.3 hours on weeknights. Only six percent of students slept nine hours or more on weeknights, and 58 percent tried to catch up by sleeping nine hours or more on weekends.

Sleep problems also were commonly reported by the students. Forty-five percent woke up at least once during the night with trouble falling asleep again, 40 percent complained of difficulties in morning awakening and 19 percent reported bad sleep. The combination of chronic sleep loss and poor sleep quality had a negative effect on their alertness, as 64 percent of participants complained of excessive daytime sleepiness.

The study also found an increased risk of car accidents in men (OR = 3.3) and smokers (OR = 3.2). The authors suggested that the use of tobacco could be an indirect estimate of unhealthy lifestyle habits, as well as a method of counteracting sleepiness.

According to the authors, the study emphasizes the need for education programs that target adolescents with information about improving sleep habits, the importance of sleep and the dangers of sleep deprivation.

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (JCSM) contains published papers related to the clinical practice of sleep medicine, including original manuscripts such as clinical trials, clinical reviews, clinical commentary and debate, medical economic/practice perspectives, case series and novel/interesting case reports. In addition, the JCSM publishes proceedings from conferences, workshops and symposia sponsored by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine or other organizations related to improving the practice of sleep medicine.

For a copy of the study, "Sleep Quality and Motor Vehicle Crashes in Adolescents," or to arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson, please contact Kelly Wagner, AASM public relations coordinator, at (708) 492-0930, ext. 9331, or

AASM is a professional membership organization dedicated to the advancement of sleep medicine and sleep-related research. As the national accrediting body for sleep disorders centers and laboratories for sleep related breathing disorders, the AASM promotes the highest standards of patient care. The organization serves its members and advances the field of sleep health care by setting the clinical standards for the field of sleep medicine, advocating for recognition, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, educating professionals dedicated to providing optimal sleep health care and fostering the development and application of scientific knowledge.

Kelly Wagner | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>