LV Life Editor
A trend among University of La Verne students to skip sleep in favor of studying may be affecting more than their ability to stay awake in class.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 60 percent of adult drivers have driven a vehicle while sleep-deprived and 37 percent have fallen asleep at the wheel.
A new study by The Automobile Club of America Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that these numbers are on the rise, putting drivers on the roads at risk.
“I’m usually sleep-deprived because I have homework, studying or projects to do still,” sophomore business administration major Zulema De La Torre said.
“Then I usually have no concentration, and I’m sure that’s a huge danger when driving.”
In a recent informal survey, eight out of 10 students at ULV said they are sleep-deprived, and seven out of 10 students confessed to driving while sleep deprived.
This behavior is riskier than many realize, according to a study by researchers in Australia.
They showed that being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05.
After 24 hours, the equivalent increased to a BAC of 0.10, whereas the legal limit is 0.08.
This means that foregoing sleep to study or catch up on work and then getting behind the wheel might be more dangerous than drunk driving, since there is no test to determine sleepiness as there is for intoxication.
“I knew it wasn’t good to drive when you’re sleepy, but I didn’t know it was as bad as drunk driving,” freshman business administration major Adam Gray said.
“That scares me, because I’m always sleep deprived.”
Young adults, who tend to be the most unaware of the effects of drowsy driving, are the most likely to drive while sleepy and get in an accident, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation.
The poll also indicated that young adults aged 18 to 29 are the least likely to pull over and nap when they are drowsy.
“I find it very difficult to focus when I don’t get enough sleep and I doze off throughout the day,” senior liberal studies major Kacey Hall said.
“Those characteristics definitely seem to add up to dangerous driving.”
If some students know the dangers of driving while drowsy, why do they continue to deprive themselves of much-needed sleep and then get behind the wheel the next morning?
For most, the answer is that they have too much to do to be able to sleep at night.
“What keeps me up is mostly my homework,” freshman sociology and ethnic studies major Christine Camacho said.
“I usually have a lot of activities during the day that cause me to do my homework really late.”
Seven out of 10 La Verne students cited school-related work as their primary reason for sleep deprivation, but also admitted that school events, procrastination or making homework a last priority are also to blame.
“I’m always forcing myself to stay up and finish homework or catch up on things I missed,” freshman business administration major Adam Gray said.
“I have too many things to get done and not enough time to do it, but I do procrastinate and put other things first, which is a large part of the reason I’m up late.”
How to break the habit
Students can take steps to work more efficiently and get a good night’s sleep to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. The National Sleep Foundation recommends following these tips for avoiding sleep deprivation:
• Establish a schedule for doing homework in a timely manner.
• Allow time before bed to relax without technological stimulation.
• Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule, including on the weekends.
• Avoid caffeine within six to eight hours of going to sleep.
• When driving, allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
• Avoid driving at times when you would normally sleep.
Following these tips and getting a good night’s sleep will help students break this alarming trend, allowing for better performance in the classroom and less danger on the road. For more information on the dangers of drowsy driving and tips to sleeping well, go to drowsydriving.org.
Lauren Creiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.