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The very big impact of very small naps

We’ve all been in long meetings, early morning classes or other situations where it is hard to stay awake and alert. We see it happen to others, too. Their eyes close, their heads droop a bit and then suddenly, they jerk themselves awake. This can happen over and over.

There is a name for this: micro-sleep. This refers to extremely short naps that only last about 10 seconds or so. They are so short, in fact, that while we may be sleeping, our brain doesn’t even remember it happened. While we may be used to seeing this happen at work, school or other places, it can and does also happen when people are driving.

As explained in this BBC article, drivers who are extremely tired and/or sleep deprived are at a serious risk of experiencing micro-sleeps. The act of driving itself can only make matters worse for someone who is extremely tired, as it can be monotonous and does not require physical activity that can keep people alert.

Five or 10 seconds may not seem like very long, especially when it comes to sleep. However, during that short time, your brain is not alert, your eyes are closed and you may even drop your hands from the steering wheel. Further, depending on what type of road you are on, you could travel the length of a football field without even realizing it. This can all be extremely dangerous and make it very easy for a person to crash.

Determining whether someone specifically fell into a micro-sleep before a crash in which you were injured is extremely difficult to do. However, with legal support, you can work to collect evidence and make an argument supporting the claim that the driver was negligent, which can result in monetary awards.