Have you ever nodded off in class or at work? You’re fighting fatigue, feeling like you’re zoning out, and suddenly you jerk your head up as you wake up. You didn’t fall asleep for long — just a second or two — but it’s still a very strange and disconcerting event. This is called microsleep.
It’s important to note that this is still “real” sleep. Your body does fall asleep, even for such a short time. If you used an EEG (an electroencephalogram) to look at your brain activity during that episode, you would see “a slowing of neural activity” and a drop in muscle tone, just like you’d see “during real sleep” noted one leading neuroscientist. She said that it did not matter that your body only slept for a second or two. It still went through the same experiences that it would if you slept for hours.
Why is this important? Well, it’s something that often happens to people when they’re driving. They try hard to stay awake, drift off for a second, and then wake up feeling terrified that they were asleep at the wheel.
Some people, unfortunately, don’t wake up until they’ve already caused an accident. When you’re driving at 60 or 70 miles per hour, sleeping for just a second or two is definitely enough to cause a crash. People need to be aware of the phenomenon of microsleep and the risks that it poses.
If you get hurt in one of these car accidents when another driver falls asleep, you also need to be aware of the legal options you have to seek fair financial compensation.