Don't be a wreck because of this one bad habit

Some people can't sleep. Other people just DON'T sleep.

Whatever the reason, it's easy to get used to it. You feel lousy in the morning, but you brew yourself another cup of coffee and power through it.

And if that sounds like your mornings, friend, it's time to make some changes -- because the latest research is a wake-up call.

This one doesn't spot some risk you might face someday, after years of missed sleep.

No, those risks are real but they're too easy to ignore.

This one can't be ignored, because it's a risk you could face TODAY if you hit the highway after missing out on sleep.

Turns out falling short in shuteye can make you almost as dangerous as a drunk driver!

Missing out on just one hour of sleep... getting six hours tonight instead of the seven you need... will increase your risk of a car crash by 30 percent, according to the new report from AAA.

The less you sleep, the higher that risk climbs.

If you get between five and six hours of rest, your risk of an accident nearly doubles, while getting just four or five hours will more than quadruple the risk.

And if you sleep less than four hours on any given night -- something a lot more common than you might realize -- your risk of an accident shoots up by more than 11 times!

Obviously, you need your sleep. Along with increasing the risk of a car crash, missing out on shuteye can lead to everything from heart problems to dementia over the long run.

Don't turn to sleep meds. The drugs can cause bizarre behavior, including people who get up and go out for a ride -- while still technically ASLEEP!

Your best bet is to take the same two-step approach I use here at the Stengler Center.

  • Step One: Get the rest you need tonight with the help of a natural sleep aid such as valerian and/or chamomile or the "sleep hormone" melatonin.
  • Step Two: Get checked for the root causes of sleep problems -- including low levels of essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium or hormonal imbalances -- then working with your doc to fix them.

You'll sleep easier, feel rested and drive better.

Of course, even if you get the sleep you need, others could be hitting the road on short rest -- and they're not just a threat to themselves.

They're a threat to YOU.

So as always, be extra cautious when you're on the road at all times.