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Six Hours or Less of Sleep Ups Crash Risk for Young Drivers

FRIDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- On average, sleeping six hours or less per night increases the risk of motor vehicle crashes for newly licensed drivers aged 17 to 24 years, according to research published online May 20 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Alexandra L.C. Martiniuk, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study in which questionnaires were filled out by 20,822 newly licensed drivers aged 17 to 24 years. Average follow-up time for licensing and police-reported crash data was two years. Analysis of the data was based on a subsample of 19,327 participants for whom full information was available.

The researchers found that, on average, newly licensed 17- to 24-year-old drivers who reported sleeping six hours or less per night had an increased risk of a police-reported crash compared with those who reported sleeping more than six hours per night (relative risk [RR], 1.21). Less sleep on weekends significantly increased the risk for run-off-road crashes (RR, 1.55). For young drivers who had less sleep per night on average and on weekends and who had motor vehicle accidents, crashes were significantly more likely to occur between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. (RR, 1.86 for midnight to 5:59 a.m.; RR, 1.66 for 8:00 to 11:59 p.m.).

"This study demonstrated that sleeping six or fewer hours per night, similar to five or fewer hours, is associated with an increased risk for motor vehicle crashes among young drivers," the authors write. "Importantly, this study also found that reduced sleep hours on the weekends was significantly associated with an increased risk for run-off-road crashes and crashes occurring between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m."

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