Don't fall prey to the Sandman while driving

A lack of sleep can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

Texting and driving is dangerous.

So is drinking and driving ... but there's something just as scary, and you might not even know you are at risk.

"People in general don't understand the importance of good sleep," Blessing Sleep Center's Jolene Beaber said.

Sleep. It's something many of us say we don't get enough of. But did you know that lack of shut eye can make the roadway a dangerous place?

"There's a lot of research that says there's an increased chance of accidents," Beaber said. "When you're drowsy driving you're not as alert."

Amy Smith from Blessing Sleep Center says when you're sleep deprived your body's reaction time is delayed.

If you get six hours of sleep or less your risk of driving drowsy triples. It can also increase your chances of getting pulled over.

"It's very similar to drinking and driving," Beaber said.

"Just like with alcohol we watch for somebody who's weaving," Quincy Police Officer Kelly VanderMaiden said. "Someone who is going off the road or maybe running stop lights, not using turn signals, driving to slow or using varying speeds."

Staying awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.08. That's the same as being legally drunk.

"It's unsafe for you but it's unsafe for others as well," VanderMaiden said.

How do you know you're to tired to drive?

Baeber says to feel for heavy eyelids, look for yawning or trouble keeping your head up.

If you do feel those symptoms she says to pull over immediately and take a break or switch drivers.

"Ultimately what we would like people to do is not even get behind the wheel if they hadn't had enough sleep," Baeber said.

Remember, you snooze you lose.

One hundred thousand accidents a year are linked to drowsy driving.

Next week is drowsy driving awareness week.

The Blessing Sleep Center is holding an open house Monday night from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.