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Healthy sleep is essential for driving safety

Most people in Georgia have gotten in their vehicles after a less-than-restful night's sleep and gone about their day feeling fatigued. However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine warns that if the sleep issue is insomnia, there is a high chance of a fatal accident.

In particular, people who have trouble falling asleep in the first place are at high risk of a fatal accident. They are nearly 2.4 times more likely to die in a car crash than people who do not have trouble falling asleep. A survey of drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents revealed that 34 percent suffered from this insomnia symptom. 

To some, sleeping pills may seem like the obvious answer. However, Consumer Reports warns that the side effects of these drugs - and they all have side effects - include feelings of drowsiness, dizziness and unsteadiness the next day. People may also experience memory lapses or feel mentally unfocused.

In one survey, more than five out of every 10 respondents said they felt symptoms such as those listed above the day after taking a sleeping pill. One out of 10 self-reported tripping, falling and feeling uncoordinated the next day. Even worse, 3 percent admitted that they fell asleep while behind the wheel. 

Ironically, these drugs often only add an extra 30 minutes or so of extra sleep to a person's total, and many people get no extra sleep. Perhaps this is why so many report taking more than the recommended dosage, behavior that leads to more serious symptoms. 

Because of the risks associated with driving drowsy and driving after taking sleeping pills, it is better for people to resort to more natural ways of falling asleep whenever possible, and to seek the attention of a sleep specialist for help with sleep disorders such as insomnia.

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