Drowsy driving often occurs when drivers don't get enough sleep, spend several hours on the road or suffer from an untreated sleep disorder. There are many people who have struggled to stay awake while driving at some point, but the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be making the problem even worse.
Recent scientific research published by Cell Press in June links the coronavirus pandemic with poor overall sleep quality in the United States and Europe. This is despite people generally receiving more sleep than usual due to being out of work, out of school or working from home.
Lockdowns, 'social jetlag' causing poor sleep
Researchers in the two studies link poor sleep quality with "social jetlag," which is a term coined in 2006 by German researcher Till Roennenberg. Social jetlag is a change in sleep patterns that people may experience on their days off from work or school. It often occurs when people socialize on weekends and stay up late, then, sleep in later than they usually do.
Christine Blume is a sleep researcher and cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Basel's Centre for Chronobiology in Switzerland. She says that in most cases, decreased social jetlag is linked to better sleep. According to the sleep samples collected in her research, she has seen the opposite.
"We think that the self-perceived burden, which substantially increased during this unprecedented COVID-19 lockdown, may have outweighed the otherwise beneficial effects of a reduced social jetlag," said Blume.
The research in the study was conducted in Austria, Germany and Switzerland from mid-March to late April, 2020. This period was the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns in many states in the U.S. and other places around the world. The samples conclude that people received an average of 15 minutes of extra sleep per night than they usually would. The quality of sleep had declined, however.
Other causes of poor sleep quality
The lack of social jetlag may be linked to people staying home more often and avoiding social activities with friends and family. There are other factors that could be leading to disrupted sleep.
COVID-19 has caused a great deal of stress for many people. Common stressors during these times are:
- Financial and job-related stress
- Worries regarding the future
- Depression and other mental health effects linked to the lockdowns
- Fear and panic linked to the news
According to sleepfoundation.org, stress and worry can lead to disruptions in sleep and sometimes even insomnia.
What to do if you were involved in a crash with a drowsy driver
If you were involved in a crash with a drowsy driver, you may have sustained severe injuries. You may have broken bones, a spinal injury, a severe head injury or something worse. If you were lucky enough to walk away without the need for emergency medical care, you may have still sustained whiplash or a concussion. It's important that you get medical care as soon as possible, even if you don't feel hurt. Some injuries can take several days to manifest.
You may be worried about how you will be able to afford medical care and car repairs. This could be the case especially if you need to take time off from work to recover. That's why it's critical that you speak to an experienced Texas car accident attorney. A lawyer can explain the legal rights and options available to you.
The Law Offices of Gene S. Hagood can investigate your drowsy driving crash and negotiate with the at-fault driver's insurance company for a fair financial settlement. To find out how, contact us online and set up your free case evaluation. We serve clients in Alvin, Houston, and Galveston, Texas.