Post lunch nap leads to better driving, French study claims
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Credit: (CC BY 2.0) by spaetz
According to a recent study ordered by French highway operator, Vinci Autoroute, a 10 to 20 minute nap after lunch can have a significant impact upon attention span and ability while driving.
Research of 40 test subjects found a 21% increase in highway driving deviations when the driver doesn’t have the nap.
“All studies reveal that there is an accident peak between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM. This is due to our biological clock that programs the human body for a drop in vigilance to allow us to take a nap,” explained chronobiologist Damien Davenne, Professor at the Caen University.
The Professor and Director of the COMETE research unit observed the driving behaviour of subjects equipped with electrodes. The drivers were put on a driving simulator mimicking four hours of monotone highway driving without traffic, split by an hour lunch break in the middle.
During that break, one group had a nap in bed, another had a nap in a reclined seat, and the last had neither.
Across the two hours following the stop, the lateral deviations of the vehicle (zigzags synonymous with loss of vigilance or even drowsiness) of the subjects who did not sleep were recorded as 21% higher than those of those who took a nap – with much smaller differences between subjects who slept in a bed and on the seat.
“Without a nap between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., just with a simple break, the risk of accidents is considerably higher. Having an after-lunch nap significantly improves driving attention,” explains Davenne, adding that it shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes.
“This study brings further proof of the necessity of napping,” notes Bernadette Moreau, Executive Officer of the Vinci Autoroute Foundation. The foundation’s barometer shows that three in five motorists rarely nap.
To encourage that behaviour, the highway operator has equipped its resting areas with dedicated napping zones for some time. With the health crisis, motorists are advised to rest in their cars.