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Sleepy Driving Prevalent Among Collegians

17% said they had dropped off at wheel, with 2.2% reporting accidents as result

MONDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Driving while suffering from a lack of sleep may be a real problem for American college students, a new report suggests.

Interviews with 263 students at the University of North Texas found that 17 percent of them fell asleep while driving, and 2.2 percent of that group reported having accidents because of this drowsiness. A majority in both groups reported greater daytime sleepiness or having significantly less sleep than those who didn't fall asleep with driving.

"The results of the study identify a surprisingly high prevalence of having fallen asleep while driving among college students, and specifically highlight the increased risk of driving among those with significant sleepiness," study author Diana Dolan, of Sleep Medicine Associates of Texas, said in a prepared statement.

The report was slated to be presented Monday at SLEEP 2008, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Baltimore.

Drowsy driving caused approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes annually, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Drowsy driving is usually caused by sleep restriction, in which a person voluntarily deprives himself or herself of the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep each night, or sleep fragmentation, in which either an internal cause (sickness or untreated sleep disorder) or external cause (noise, children, a restless bed partner) prevents the person from getting adequate sleep.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about how to get a good night's sleep.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 9, 2008

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