November 20, 2007
SLEEP DEPRIVATION & DRIVING
Nothing could prepare me for the news I received six years ago about the unexpected death of my close friend Joey. I will never forget the night he died. How I had been with him just minutes before, and how his death was totally unnecessary and preventable. A few weeks before Christmas in 2001, Joey, myself and a few of my other co-workers were closing down the local restaurant we worked at while attending Umass Lowell. It had been a busy night, and we didn't end up finishing work until 1am. Having worked all day, we were all extremely tired, and could not wait to go home. Most of us were staying in Lowell at the time, but Joey had chosen to commute to campus and therefore had to travel out to Reading. I remember saying goodbye to him and I remember telling him to drive safely. I never thought that would be the last time I would ever see him. I never thought that he wouldn't "drive safely," and I most certainly never entertained the thought that he was so tired that he would fall asleep while operating his vehicle. Joey died on Interstate 93, not too far from his residence. He fell asleep at the wheel and flipped his car. He died upon impact.
Many people underestimate the importance of sleep, and the story of my close friend Joey is just one among many other stories that involve people killing either themselves, or someone else while asleep at the wheel. Sleep is essential for a person's health and well-being, and deprivation can carry many detrimental implications. Accumulating research on both people and animals has revealed staggering pysiological and behavioral consequences related to sleep deprivation. Sleep is necessary for the human body to replenish its energy supply, as well as sharpen cognitive functions, and restore memory. However, despite these findings, research has also shown that millions of Americans suffer from lack of sleep/sleep deprivation. ("What is Drowsy...