An alarming 25 per cent of Omanis reported experiencing daytime sleepiness at least once a month while driving, says a cross-sectional study that was recently published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal.
In a country where nearly half of the traffic accidents take place before sunset (49 per cent of total accidents), the study suggests that sleep-deprived driving is a culprit in a majority of these.
Around 492 young Omani adults – none of them commercial drivers – took part in the survey. This was done to ensure that their jobs weren’t dependent on driving a vehicle for long hours.
Among them, a staggering 124 of the participants admitted to feeling drowsy while driving in the daytime. The figures are worrying at first glance – but they are considered average compared to global stats.
“We witnessed a significant association between nocturnal sleep duration of less than six hours and sleepiness while driving,” said Dr. Mohammed Al Abri, Senior Consultant and Associate Professor of Sleep Medicine at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital.
Al Abri explained that sleepiness while driving is common among young male drivers in Oman and that it might be due to “nocturnal sleep deprivation and sleeping patterns”.
The study suggested that extended work shifts can also disrupt the sleep-wake cycle and therefore heighten the risk of occupational injuries and motor vehicle crashes. However, no studies have yet been conducted in Oman to determine the prevalence of daytime sleepiness among young adult drivers.
Car crashes are one of the most common causes of mortality and morbidity among young people in Oman, a country of approximately 4.5 million residents.