I happened to see the aftermath of a freak road accident a few days ago that killed one person and left another fighting for his life in hospital. In the photo above, you can see that the wall of the house (to the right of the gate) has caved in. Early in the morning, the driver of a jeep traveling on the side of the road farther from the house lost control of the vehicle, which jumped the median and rampaged across the road to smash through the wall. One man standing in front of the wall drinking his morning tea was killed; he was in the way. The driver reportedly fell asleep at the wheel. The next two photos show the scene the next day: a closeup of the blasted wall and a poster in memory of the slain pedestrian.
According to the sleep book (Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams), more accidents are due to the driver falling asleep at the wheel than the official statistics show. No driver will admit that he fell asleep at the wheel, so the number of such incidents is likely to be underreported. Today we humans are functioning on less sleep than ever before in our history. The shrinking of the circle of sleep began with the spread of artificial indoor lighting, and our always-connected always-on modern lifestyles have worsened the problem.
In fact, but for coffee — literally — most of us wouldn’t be able to function with the amount of sleep we typically get.