Microsleep is where the brain briefly shuts down to micro “sleep” to make up for a long period of time without sleep. The microsleep occurs in a few fractions of a second, up to half a minute. The brain does not function well, and is often associated with confusion, disorientation, and lapse in vision, decision making, and most importantly, a strong lack of reflexes. Microsleep is the result of sleep deprivation.
Ever been driving a car late at night, and finding yourself having to shake yourself awake as your head keeps dropping? Where you jerk awake and feel like you were drifting off? That is an example of “microsleep.” If this happens you should pull over and rest for a few hours.
Semi-truck driver have strict schedules, and have long hours. The laws state they have restrictions on the number of hours they can work. Often these laws are broken, as truck drivers get paid when they complete the trip. The drivers and their companies push extra miles, and therefore extra hours. The extra hours late at night often causes semi-truck drivers to be particularly susceptible to accidents.
Studies have shown that the more sleep deprivation a person is, the larger the accident risk. There are some studies that show that 20% of accidents at night are a result of some type of sleep-related disorder. This includes sleep deprivation and sleep debt.
Here is what to watch for:
Symptoms of Microsleep:
- Tilting head forward
- Jerking head up awake
- Constant blinking
- Heavy eyelids
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling foggy or slow
Semi-truck drivers pay attention to these signals, and should pull over when these symptoms start occurring that they believe they are endangering themselves or other drivers.