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Start the new school year with a good night's sleep

By Kyle Linsay
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 12:08

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Breakdown and road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging parents to ensure they and their children get the right amount of sleep every night. GEM says this will not only help them perform better in the workplace or classroom, but will also make a significant contribution to reducing the risks they face on the road.

The call follows research from the United States, which shows that between 15% and 33% of fatal crashes involve tired drivers, and that around four per cent of Americans admit to having fallen asleep while driving within the previous month.

Additionally, new figures from Ireland suggest that tiredness is a factor in up to 20% of driver deaths.

GEM chief executive David Williams MBE says: “If we all got the amount of sleep we need, there would be fewer crashes, fewer near-crashes and fewer road rage incidents. That’s why we’re urging parents to ensure they and their children get proper quality sleep every night.

“We feel better when we wake up after a good night’s sleep, and we’re more alert. We respond more quickly and our reaction times are faster. We perform better in sport, children retain information better from their teachers. Overall, our moods are better after good sleep.

“Conversely, fatigue among drivers is one of our greatest public health threats. Work pressures can keep many people awake at night, yet the same pressures require them to be up and out early in the morning, in control of a heavy machine that’s travelling at high speed and capable of doing enormous damage.

“Depriving someone of sleep quickly makes them moody and irrational. That’s why many road rage incidents in the morning rush hour are likely to relate to people who simply didn’t get a good night’s sleep.”

GEM offers the following advice for avoiding the risks associated with fatigue:

  • Encourage everyone in the household to get a good night’s sleep every night
  • Understand that a sleep deficit of just a couple of hours can lead to irritability and can also increase someone’s likelihood to take irrational risks
  • Feeling drowsy in the middle of the day doesn’t make you lazy – for most people it’s a natural part of the daily cycle of sleep and wakefulness
  • Taking a short nap during the working day may not be a possibility for everyone, but it’s much better than relying on stimulant drinks to keep awake
  • For driving, fatigue is a serious risk, so don’t begin a long journey if you’re already tired
  • If you feel sleepy while driving, then stop as soon as it’s safe. Resting and drinking some coffee offers a possible short-term fix
  • The only proper cure for sleepiness is good sleep

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