Tag drowsiness

11 Tips to Prevent a Drowsy Driving Death this Weekend

In 2010, 397 people died in crashes over the Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day Weekend is traditionally one of the heaviest travel weekend of the year. If you are one of the millions of Americans traveling this holiday, please follow these tips and save a life.

Please remember that turning on the radio, stretching your neck, putting your face out of the window, slapping your face, chewing a gum, or pushing a sharp pin in your thigh does not work!


1. Get a good night’s sleep every night, certainly prior to the long trip.

2. Avoid driving between mid-night and 7 am as our brain is sleepiest during these hours.

3. Be extra careful driving around mid-afternoon.

4. Share driving responsibility.

5. Take a break every 2 hours.

6. Take a 10-15 minute nap before you become sleepy.

7. Enjoy a strong cup of coffee in anticipation of drowsiness.

8. If you have untreated sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder, or any other sleep disorder, let someone else drive.

9. Resist distractions. Don’t play with your Smartphone or MP3 player.

10. If your thoughts become dreamy or lose touch with reality, pull over right away, or you shall die.

11. Do not drive drunk. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40 percent of the 397 deaths from car accidents nationally were alcohol-related.

Please share freely and save a life.

5 Other Disastrous Accidents Related To Sleep Deprivation | Huffington Post

5 Other Disastrous Accidents Related To Sleep Deprivation.

challenger explosion

Whether he was truly asleep at the wheel or just zoned out, Metro North train engineer William Rockefeller isn’t the only shift worker to find himself at the center of a fatal accident with reports of sleep deprivation. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the accident got us thinking about the many disasters that have a working corps suffering from a lack of sleep at the center.

Perhaps tragic accidents like this one — and the global catastrophes outlined below — can wake us up to the realities of skimping on sleep. The gravity of the following disasters — combined with the near-misses at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Ohio and Peach Bottom Nuclear Reactor in Pennsylvania — should serve as a reminder to all of us that sleep is utterly crucial.

Read more at Huffington Post by clicking the link above.

Sleepy During the Night Shift? Try These Tips.


“How can I stay alert at 3 am?” asks Twilight, an ICU nurse who has been working nights for years. She knows that our internal pacemaker (SupraChiasmatic Nucleus) makes us sleepy at night and alert during the day. How can you go against the might of Mother Nature? Well, it is tough, but you can summon the help of these seven friends.

  1. Stay Active
  2. Take a PREM nap
  3. Massage Your Tender Points
  4. Look at the Light Often
  5. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee
  6. Snack Smartly
  7. Seek Spiritual Help (My All-time Favorite)

And beware of a formidable foe in alcohol when faced with insufficient sleep and long days. Let us discuss them one by one.

Stay Active

The Alertness starts declining the longer you stay still. One way to prevent this is to “deskercise” every hour. Deskercising will also help you to reduce muscle tension and stress while helping you preserve the flexibility, strength, and muscle tone you already have. The following are some simple deskercising techniques to try:

The Wrist Muscle Stretch

When working at the computer, stop occasionally and deskercize using the wrist muscle stretch. Slowly stretch your wrist muscles by using a full range of motion. Joints that have become sore and stiff because of repetitive motion activity will respond to slow stretches. Do not risk pulling a muscle by attempting the stretch rapidly. Get the full benefit of the stretch by doing it slowly.

The Pectoral Stretch

The following is an easy stretch you can do at your desk. Simply clasp your hands behind you head and slowly move your shoulders and elbows back. Repeat this a few times. It is a great way to stretch your pectoral and chest muscles.

Wrist Flexion

Using your left palm, gently apply force to the right hand, causing the right wrist to stretch toward the underside of the right arm. Hold it there for five seconds and then release and repeat on the left hand. Repeat the exercise five times.

Wrist Hyperextension

Using the left palm, slowly apply force to bend the right hand backward. Hold it there for five seconds and then release and repeat to the left hand. Repeat the exercise five times.

Sitting Bend

In a sitting position, with your feet flat on the floor, your knees about ten inches apart and hands at your sides, bend over as far comfortable with your hands reaching toward the floor. Hold the position for five seconds and then slowly pull back into a sitting position while tightening your abdominal muscles. Repeat four times. This exercise stretches your lower back muscles and hamstrings.

Vertical Stretches

Vertical stretches provide an excellent way to reduce tension and activate all of your major muscle groups. With your feet shoulder-width apart, lift yourself upward on your toes and extend your arms over your head. Reach each hand as high as possible for about seven seconds and then relax. Repeat four times.

Get Up and Walk Around

Sitting too long can have several negative effects. It’s important to get up and walk around at least once each hour. A ten-minute walk around the office would be excellent. But, when that’s not possible, shorter walks to the water cooler, filing cabinet, or restroom are better than nothing.

When you are working at desk, get up at least once every twenty minutes and move around. 

  • Take a PREM (Patel’s Relaxed Eye Muscles) Nap. Studies have shown that a fifteen-minute nap can improve alertness and last for almost three hours.  This can be life saving when taken before driving back home after bight shift.
  • Massage Your Tender Spots. Gently massaging your calf muscles, your neck, and your temple area can improve alertness by relieving muscle aches, back pain, headaches, burning in the eyes, and other distracting physical symptoms precipitated by sleep deprivation. Untreated, these symptoms can drag your energy level and your alertness down.
  • Look at the Bright Light Often. It has a tremendous alerting influence. Use this to your advantage. Sit facing bright light. Put a bright light lamp behind your desktop while working on it.
  • Enjoy a Cup of Coffee. Caffeine has alerting property, but it has the duration of action of twenty-four hours, so a cup of coffee consumed at 2 AM is still in your bloodstream at 8 AM when your brain is trying to fall asleep. Because of this reason, caffeine should not be used indiscriminately. It should be used as medicine, at the right dosage, at the right time, and for the right reason.
  • Snack Smartly. Eat a Protein Snack Every 2-3 Hour. I will maintain your energy and alertness while eating a large starchy meal will degrade your alertness. Avoid rice, pasta, and dessert.
  • Seek Spiritual Support. Spiritual support has helped me the most during my drives to ER at 2 AM. I would ask for divine help. “Give me energy, my Lord, to serve my patients well.”

Do you have a particular trick that works best for you? Which of the above intervention has helped you most?

This blog post is dedicated to my good friend Mahesh Patel MD who has devoted his life to saving premature babies in Bismarck, ND, and millions like him who have spent nights after nights serving others. God Bless You All.

Adopted from the book “Sleep Well, Lead Well” now available on Amazon

Tired in The Afternoon? 5 Tips from Your Sleep Doc | Yatin J. Patel

Work place drowsiness is less obvious than this but equally disastrous.

Workplace drowsiness is less apparent than this but equally disastrous.

Eliminate the MADness (Mid Afternoon Drowsiness)

The majority of mammalian species have a second sleep period during the daytime because of the mid-afternoon dip in alertness. This dip in the alertness in the middle of our working day causes a decline in our productivity and, more importantly, creates an environment conducive to disastrous mistakes. The following graph depicts the number of sleep-related accidents and their time of occurrence. Please note the steep increase in accidents between one o’clock and three o’clock.

The incidence of sleep-related vehicle accidents (n=606) by hour of day. BMJ 1995; 310: 565 Sleep-related vehicle accidents. JA Horne, professor, LA Reyner, research associate, Sleep Research Laboratory, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire LE11 3TU.

Why does this occur? Well, our internal pacemaker, Suprachiasmatic nucleus located at the base of the brain makes us sleepy in the mid-afternoon. Fighting this tiny structure will take discipline and persistence, but this can improve your executive output by thirty percent and can eliminate disastrous decision making.

First, you have to recognize this decline in alertness and in productivity. Look for it and you shall find complacency and chaos, disastrous decision-making, and combustible communication post-lunch. Keep these tips in mind to help you get through the mid-afternoon madness:

  1. Keep moving. Pace the floor. If you are in a meeting, flex and extend your ankles. Take a trip to the restroom.
  2. Look at the light. Sit facing the sun. Minimize power point use if giving a presentation. Turn the slides off and turn the lights on every ten minutes.
  3. Eat a light lunch. If you avoid carbohydrates, you will not feel sluggish at the next afternoon meeting. Your head will be able to think clearly and handle crucial decision making duties.
  4. Use caffeine judiciously. It can improve your alertness but can rob you of your deep sleep at night as it has duration of action of 24 hours.
  5. Take a fifteen-minute power nap. It will go a long way in improving your performance as a leader. Studies have shown that a fifteen-minute power nap can improve alertness, decision-making, creativity, communication, perception, situational awareness, and problem-solving for 150 minutes.

If you follow these tips, you can maximize alertness even in the afternoon.

What has your experience been? Have you noticed sluggishness, errors, omissions, complacency, and chaos around mid-afternoon? What tips do you follow to overcome mid-afternoon madness? How did you overcome the cultural stigma associated with napping?

Happy Leading!

10 Tips to Prevent a Road Death This Weekend

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Wash...

A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Washington Monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Busiest Driving Day of the Year

According to the American Automobile Association, this Independence Day holiday period, from July 2nd  to July 5th, approximately 45 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home.

Deadliest Day of the Year

Stay Alert. Stay Focused.

Historically speaking, one of the worst days for traffic fatalities is July 4. An analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that July 4 has been the deadliest day on the road in recent years. The institute looked at accident statistics from 2004 to 2008 and found that on average, 148 people died in motor vehicle crashes on July 4, more than on any other day.

English: An advisory sign on Interstate 15 in ...

An advisory sign on Interstate 15 in Utah near Mt. Nebo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drowsiness, Drunk Driving, & Distractions Kill

Here are my 10 tips to prevent a death this weekend. Please share these tips freely and it might just save an innocent life. Please remember that turning on the radio, stretching your neck, putting a fan on high, putting your face out of window, slapping your face, or pushing a sharp pin in your thigh does not work.

  1. Certainly before a long trip, plan and get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Avoid driving from midnight to six o’clock in the morning.
  3. Be extra careful while driving around mid-afternoon.
  4. Do not drive after an overnight flight.
  5. Take a break at least every two hours.
  6. Take a power nap in anticipation of sleepiness.
  7. Remember that a cup of coffee can be lifesaving.
  8. Do not drive if you have untreated sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs, shift work sleep disorder, or narcolepsy.
  9. If your thoughts become dreamy, your eyelids feel heavy, or traffic signs do not mean much pull over. You are about to die!
  10. Keep your eyes on the road and away from the iPhone.
  11. Do not drive drunk.

Watch my interview with Gary Sieber discussing drowsy driving tips.

How Does Drowsy Driving Kill?

On the very first day of my internship in this country, I did an initial evaluation of a female executive, who the paramedics had brought to the ER of Englewood Hospital Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey. She was a restrained driver of a Volvo that ran off the road and into a tree on that cloudy afternoon on a drive back to her home in Englewood Cliffs from Newark Airport after a long transcontinental flight. Even though her car was totaled, she fortunately suffered only minor chest contusion. What struck me though was her answer when I asked her what had happened. “I just don’t know.”And that is the commonest answer I have heard during my twenty years of pulmonary practice while evaluating and treating survivors of motor vehicular accidents. I was baffled with that answer until I started my sleep medicine fellowship and learned about micro-sleeps and lack of situational awareness resulting from sleep deprivation.

Micro-sleeps are fatal. 

Micro sleeps, three to fourteen seconds of sleep activity seen on electroencephalographic recordings (brain waves) of awake individuals, cause uncontrollable sleep attacks without any warning in people with both acute and chronic sleep deprivation.

Loss of situational awareness kills too.

The other dangerous phenomenon seen in sleep-deprived leaders is the loss of situational awareness. With this deficit, the person loses awareness of the surrounding. Is the road ahead curving? Is there a reduced speed limit ahead? Is the car in the front braking? Are the driving conditions dangerous?

Beware of impaired decision-making too.

When sleep deprived, your decision-making is impaired such that you may take a left turn when you would have waited. Or you may pass a truck on a curvy road, which you would not have done when rested. You may choose to text back while driving, which you would not have done if you were not sleep deprived. Under our public awareness campaign,

Spread the Word. Save a Life. Please share this blog with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. God bless you.

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