Sleep is a necessity for having productive days. Between waking up early and sleeping late due to tight working schedules, however, the modern day driver is typically sleep deprived. This often leads to drowsy driving, which results in roughly more than 10% of road accidents.
What’s even worse about this situation is that you might not know that you are asleep while driving. Sleep deprived drivers tend to experience phases of micro-sleep that are a few seconds long, but these seconds could draw the line between life and death. Luckily, learning how to optimize your circadian rhythm can help you stay alert when driving.
Read on to learn more about optimizing your circadian rhythm:
1. What Exactly Is The Circadian Rhythm?
The circadian rhythm is like your body’s ‘internal clock’ which helps to keep your body in sync with the happenings of the day. Through it, your body can tell when it’s time to eat, relax, and most importantly sleep. It’s controlled by nerve cells dubbed the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which help to enrich your wake-sleep cycle.
The rhythm is influenced by both internal and external factors such as light, body temperature and hormones, all of which affect the ability of the body to produce melatonin – the sleep hormone. As a result, an impaired rhythm will increase your sleep debt levels. Failure to optimize it will ultimately lead to drowsy driving which could result in an accident. For fatal injury cases, you may have to hire an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer to represent you in a claim.
2. Reduce Exposure to Screen Light Before Sleeping
Photoreceptors in your eyes tend to transmit signals to the brain to determine the time of the day and the levels of light. Since the circadian rhythm relies on day and night to determine whether it’s time to sleep, overexposure to light can mean reduced production of melatonin and more sleep debt. Even after the sun sets, people will tend to expose their eyes to light from screens such as TVs, smartphones and even computers.
Optimizing your circadian rhythm will need you to lower your levels of exposure to screen light, especially blue light, for a few hours before sleeping. This means that you should use the lowest brightness on your gadgets, and use blue-light filtering gadgets if possible.
3. Control the Variables of Your Sleeping Environment
Your sleep environment will affect your sleep quality and the sleep drive you will have the next day. As a result, control variables such as sound and temperature to have a peaceful sleep. While some people sleep well with some background noise, it is wise to ensure that the noise isn’t too high to affect your sleep.
In case you live in a neighborhood that is fraught with noise pollution, wearing noise-masking earbuds could make you a safe driver. On the other hand, temperature typically affects your REM sleep, but the suitable temperature levels for sleep will vary from person to person. Adjust your thermostat to your most suitable sleep temperature to enjoy quality sleep.
4. Practice Bright Light Therapy
As mentioned earlier, your circadian rhythm uses the brightness of light during the day to determine where your stand in the sleep-wake cycle. So, while you limit your levels of exposure to light during the night, you should do the exact opposite during the day. Intentionally expose yourself to some bright light during the day.
Open up your curtains to start out your day actively. When feeling like you need a nap some few minutes before driving or even while working in the afternoon, take a walk outside to bath in some light. If interested in a more tech-savvy approach, buy a wake-up light to have your room gradually brightened as you start to get up.
An impaired circadian rhythm could be the reason why you have been feeling sleepy and fatigued lately while driving. The trick is to optimize it to avoid cases of drowsy driving. Do yourself a favor and follow the above tips to drive safely.