The Association of Sleep Hygiene and Drowsiness with Adverse Driving Events in Emergency Medicine Residents

West J Emerg Med. 2020 Oct 27;21(6):219-224. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2020.8.47357.


Introduction: Prior research shows that physicians in training are at risk for drowsy driving following their clinical duties, which may put them in danger of experiencing adverse driving events. This study explores the relationship between sleepiness, overall sleep hygiene, level of training, and adverse driving events following an overnight shift in emergency medicine (EM) residents.

Methods: Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, 50 EM residents from postgraduate years 1-4 completed self-administered surveys regarding their sleepiness before and after their drive home following an overnight shift, any adverse driving events that occurred during their drive home, and their overall sleep hygiene.

Results: Fifty out of a possible 57 residents completed the survey for a response rate of 87.7%. Sleepiness was significantly associated with adverse driving events (beta = 0.31; P < .001). Residents with high sleepiness levels reported significantly more adverse driving events. Residents reported significantly higher sleepiness levels after completing their drive home (mean = 7.04, standard deviation [SD] = 1.41) compared to sleepiness levels before driving home (mean = 5.58, SD = 1.81). Residency training level was significantly associated with adverse driving events (beta = -0.59, P < .01). Senior residents reported significantly fewer adverse driving events compared to junior residents.

Conclusion: Emergency physicians in training are at risk for drowsy driving-related motor vehicle crashes following overnight work shifts. Trainees of all levels underestimated their true degree of sleepiness prior to initiating their drive home, while junior residents were at higher risk for adverse driving events.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / standards*
  • Education* / methods
  • Education* / standards
  • Emergency Medicine* / education
  • Emergency Medicine* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency* / methods
  • Internship and Residency* / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sleep Hygiene*
  • Sleepiness*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States