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Study: Every Hour of Sleep Counts

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A significant majority of Americans (82%) agree that getting even one extra hour of sleep at night can be somewhat or extremely valuable the next day. But a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that those hours might be even more crucial than we thought when it comes to safe driving.

Researchers found that drivers who slept fewer than seven hours in a 24-hour period were twice as likely to be involved in car accidents than those who got seven or more. What's more, the odds of an accident increased for every hour of sleep lost. In the end, drivers going on only four or five hours of sleep had crash rates similar to those of drunk drivers.

Jake Nelson, director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research for AAA, summed up the study's findings pretty well. "If you have not slept seven or more hours in a given 24-hour period, you really shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car."

So what can you do to make sure you get enough sleep at night? One trick is to simply make sure that your bed is comfortable. Quality waterproof fitted sheets, protective pillow cases, and a hypoallergenic waterproof mattress protector are ideal not only for snuggling into bed, but making sure that your sleep is adequately restful, too.

Another common tip is to reserve your bed only for sleeping. Avoid working on a laptop or scrolling through a smartphone while in bed, and keep all distractions out of the room. Even if you already have a waterproof mattress protector, keep food and beverages away from your sleeping area. Most of all, be sure to give yourself enough time in your schedule to meet that ideal eight hours of sleep.

And if you feel tired while operating a vehicle? Pull over, stop, and take a nap, says Nelson. That applies especially to long drives, when we're even more prone to fatigue and drowsiness.

"Taking a 10 to 20 minute nap every couple of hours on a long drive has huge safety benefits in terms of your ability to drive without crashing," Nelson says.

So here's to your safety on the road this traveling holiday season -- and here's to a good night's rest.