When your December plans involve holiday get-togethers, shopping for gifts, baking seasonal treats, sending out holiday cards and squeezing in a workout while doing meal prep, you might decide to skimp on sleep in order to get it all done. But if you’re shorting yourself much-needed zzz’s, you’re not only putting your health at risk, you could be putting your safety—and everyone else’s on the road—at risk if you’re driving. Research done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the less sleep you get, the more likely you are to get into a car accident. While that’s probably unsurprising to you, the AAA researchers found that drivers who slept only four to five hours in the last 24 hours were more than four times as likely to get into a crash, compared to those who reported logging at least seven hours. That risk level is comparable with the government’s estimated risk of driving with a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit.
Unfortunately, shortened sleepers are in good company, since 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, even if you’re patting yourself on the back for getting the recommended amount of quality sleep each night, chances are, you’re surrounded by sleep-deprived drivers on the road. Bottom line: Aim to snooze for seven hours, but, if you’re feeling particularly drowsy while driving to the gym before work, crack open the windows for air, turn up the music, and resolve to stay alert and attentive while driving.