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Push For Driving While Tired To Be Made Illegal

Four out of 10 don't sleep enough

Push For Driving While Tired To Be Made Illegal

PHOTO: Journalist's Resource

If you're feeling a little drowsy today, you're not alone.

A new report has revealed the devastating impact sleep deprivation is having on the four in 10 Australians who don't get enough sleep, with calls for a major overhaul on driving while tired.

The fallout also costs the economy an estimated $66.3 billion in health bills, lost productivity and wellbeing.

A staggering 39.8 per cent of adults aren't getting enough sleep, some due to disorders like sleep apnoea and insomnia.

The report estimates around 7.4 million people weren't regularly getting an adequate amount of sleep in 2016-17.

Even more alarming is news that 394 Australians die each year as a result of falling asleep at the wheel or industrial accidents prompted by sleep deprivation.

It's prompted the nation's leading advocacy group to push for driving while tired to be outlawed and treated the same as drink and drug driving. 

"Police departments should devote as much attention to tired and fatigued drivers as they do to speeding and inebriated ones," the report said.

"Just as there are rules forbidding driving at more than a certain speed, or after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, there may be a case for restrictions on driving where the driver has had less than a set minimum hours of sleep in the past 24 hours."

Past reports have denoted an alarmingly high rates of internet use just before bed, which has been proven to negatively impact quality of sleep.

"Sleep is not the national health priority it needs to be,” says Dr David Hillman, a Director of the foundation. “Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community. It’s high time we moved this issue off the backburner to the forefront of national thinking.”

Some of the key contributors to the epidemic include shiftwork, parenthood, travel across time zones, illness, poor sleeping habits, some medications and the internet.

This can result in fatigue, poor concentration and memory, mood problems, slower reaction times, poor judgement and poor physical co-ordination are

It can also contribute to serious health issues including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.

SOURCE: Sleep Health Foundation/The Age/Deloitte Access Economics