Knutson noted that this fact alone indicates the seven million statistic may not be truly reflective of how many people aren’t sleeping enough, nor the regularity with which motorists take to the wheel on little to no rest.
“Three days out of the week the average American is not well-rested, which has implications for productivity, well-being, mood, health, and of course, driving,” Knutson warned. “This suggests that the occurrence of drowsy driving is likely underreported.”
Fatal car accidents up 7 percent from 2014
Driver behavior is the main reason why car accidents happen as often as they do, and while crashes occur less frequently than they used to, they rose in 2015, up 7 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the 35,092 deadly car accidents, approximately 6,400 were linked to drowsy driving, based on the NSF’s data.
It isn’t just the National Sleep Foundation and primary care physicians who are calling on Americans to make seven to eight hours of rest each night a priority. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society are making similar entreaties. In June, 15 of the nation’s leading authorities on sleep issued a consensus statement in the journal SLEEP, noting that seven or more hours of sleep per night was a must for adults to live a normal, well-balanced life.
“Sleep is critical to health, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise,” said Nathaniel Watson, AASM president and consensus panel moderator. “Our consensus panel found that sleeping six or fewer hours per night is inadequate to sustain health and safety in adults, and agreed that seven or more hours of sleep per night is recommended for all healthy adults.”