CIUSSS Capitale nationale logo

Insomnia and Driving: A Shocking Combination

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/photos/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1149997">Free-Photos</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1149997">Pixabay</a>

Read a new article on the ULaval News website about a study published in Sleep in which Charles Morin, Hans Ivers, Chantal Mérette, Mélanie LeBlanc and Josée Savard, from Laval University, and Elemarije Altena and Pierre Philip, from Bordeaux University, participated.

Insomnia, daytime fatigue, and use of sleeping pills associated with a significant increase in the risk of road accidents.

People who suffer from insomnia or daytime fatigue are about 20% more likely to be involved in road crashes. If they regularly use sleeping pills, the risk of collision is 50% higher than that observed in people who do not have sleep problems. These are the main findings of a study published in the journal Sleep by researchers from Laval University and the University of Bordeaux.

This team followed a group of more than 3,400 Canadian adults for five years. At the time of recruitment, participants were asked questions about their sleep and whether they had been involved in a collision while driving in the previous six months. They were also asked to rate, on a scale of 0 to 100, the extent to which the crash was due to insomnia or the daytime effects of fatigue or attention problems. The same exercise was repeated 6 months and 12 months after the start of the study, as well as annually thereafter.

A total of 456 accidents occurred during the study period. The researchers' analyses show that:

  • insomnia and daytime fatigue are associated with a 20% and 21% increase in accident risk, respectively;
  • occasional or regular use of sleeping pills over the past year is associated with a 50% increase in the risk of accidents;
  • regular taking of sleeping pills - at least 3 times a week - during the last month is associated with a 58% higher risk of accidents;
  • the group most at risk is women aged 18 to 29 who suffer from insomnia (80% higher) or daytime fatigue (142% higher).

 According to the participants, lack of sleep played a role in nearly 40% of accidents. "Insomnia tends to be trivialized as a health problem, but its repercussions during the day, namely fatigue and lack of concentration, can have very serious consequences when you get behind the wheel," says Charles Morin, head of the study, from the School of Psychology and the CERVO Research Centre.

"If you feel the need to sleep while you are driving, the solution is not to lower the windows or turn up the volume on the radio. You need to stop in a safe place and take a nap.
- Charles Morin

Given the high prevalence and persistence of insomnia and its association with an increased risk of motor vehicle collisions, it is important to identify and treat those who suffer from it," says the researcher. "People also need to be made aware of the risk they run and the risk they pose to others when they get behind the wheel when they are tired. Good will is not enough. If the urge to sleep comes up while you're driving, the solution is not to roll down the windows or turn up the volume on the radio. You need to pull over to a safe place and take a nap."

The authors of the study published in Sleep are Charles Morin, Hans Ivers, Chantal Mérette, Mélanie LeBlanc and Josée Savard, from Laval University, and Elemarije Altena and Pierre Philip, from the University of Bordeaux.

Read the news article, in French, by Jean Hamann, ici:

https://nouvelles.ulaval.ca/recherche/insomnie-et-conduite-automobile-une-combinaison-choc-2aa5aafc929e003bffcb7b88e9c2975a

Read the original research article in Sleep here:

Morin CM, Altena E, Ivers H, Mérette C, LeBlanc M, Savard J, Philip P. Insomnia, Hypnotic Use, and Road Collisions: A Population-Based, 5-Year Cohort Study. Sleep. 2020 Feb 29. pii: zsaa032. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa032. 

Funding / Support / Partners

logo FRQ-S logo ctrn logo fci logo cihr irsc logo nserc logo MESISentinelle nord