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What should you know about microsleeping?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Over the years, more attention has fallen on drowsy driving as a potential source of dangerous driving behavior on the road.

While attention on the matter grows, more people also run into the term “microsleeping”. But what exactly is this, and how does it relate to drivers?

Defining microsleep

WebMD discusses microsleeping and the potential problems it creates. Microsleeping happens when a person loses consciousness or falls asleep for very brief periods of time, usually one to three seconds. It often happens in people who experience insomnia or are otherwise extremely tired.

Microsleeping can and does occur behind the wheel. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of deadly crashes that involve drowsy drivers.

The dangers of microsleeping

People become completely unaware of their surroundings when experiencing a burst of microsleep. Though the time period of a few seconds does not seem like much initially, it is actually quite harmful especially when traveling at high speeds. For example, it is possible for a car going 60 miles per hour to cross the length of a football field in 3 seconds.

In short, even losing consciousness for 1 to 3 seconds can result in a severe crash. Many of the crashes where drivers go off of the road or into oncoming traffic happen when the driver experienced a burst of microsleep or otherwise fell asleep at the wheel, sometimes for longer periods.

There is no way to prevent microsleeping except to get the proper amount of sleep, which is why it is so important for drivers to do so.