Sleep loss and accidents—Work hours, life style, and sleep pathology
A very important outcome of reduced sleep is accidents. The present chapter will attempt to bring together some of the present knowledge in this area. We will focus on the driving situation, for which the evidence of the link between sleep loss and accidents is quite well established, but we will also bring up working life in general where evidence is more sparse. It should be emphasized that reduced sleep as a cause of accidents implies that the mediating factor is sleepiness (or fatigue). This link is discussed elsewhere in this volume, but here we will bring in sleepiness (subjective or physiological) as an explanatory factor of accidents. Another central observation is that many real life accident studies do not link accidents to reduced sleep, but infer reduced sleep and/or sleepiness from the context, like, for example, from work schedules, life styles, or sleep pathology. Reduced sleep is mainly due to suboptimal work schedules (or to a suboptimal life style) or to sleep pathology. We have divided the present chapter into two areas.