New Study Finds That Your Car Could Be “Rocking” You To Sleep

If you have kids, you might have found that one of the most effective ways to get the little ones to sleep is to bundle them into the car and go for a ride. Now, a new study by RMIT Australia has found that the vibrations of a car could have the same effect on adults, including the driver.

The research involved hooking up 15 volunteers in a simulator that replicated driving in a monotonous condition (ie. one of those boring journeys on a long highway) for 60 minutes. The participants were tested twice—once with low vibrations of 4 to 7 Hz; the other without—while their heart rates were monitored, as a gauge of drowsiness.

In the test round with vibrations, the volunteers showed signs of drowsiness within 15 minutes; by the 30th minute, these signs became significant and went on to increase progressively until the end of the test.

Read also: Microsleep While Driving, THAT’S DANGEROUS. 

Of course, the sample size of 15 people is hardly enough to come to a definitive conclusion. Although, just from some of the people this writer has been on road trips with, the soporific effect of long car rides is evident. On the other hand, Professor Stephen Robinson, one of the chief investigators of the study, suggested that vibrations at certain frequencies might conversely keep people awake, and this writer finds it incredibly difficult to fall asleep in any moving vehicle, thus looks askance at her travelling companions who can.

Further examination of this possible cause of sleepiness behind the wheel is required, of course; for instance, does the effect vary by age or health condition? If found to actually have an impact on driver alertness, then automakers could increase the safety of their vehicles by changing the way the seat ‘vibrates’ (get your mind out of the gutter).

Some automakers are already addressing the issue of driver fatigue by, for instance, incorporating facial recognition tech that can detect sleepiness in the driver.

Read also: Subaru’s New Facial Recognition Tech is Just What We Need to Prevent Microsleep 

Nothing, of course, beats having a good night’s sleep and being fresh and alert when you get behind the wheel of your car.

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