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Special Feature

Awake to a problem

  • from Shaastra :: vol 03 issue 03 :: Apr 2024
Sleep deprivation is a major cause of motor vehicle crashes and occupational accidents.

Scientists have developed a blood test to flag sleep deprivation.

An incident aboard a flight grabbed some eyeballs recently. The world media reported in March that the pilot and co-pilot of an Indonesian aircraft were sleeping when the plane strayed off course on January 25.

But here's the good news: a drop of blood can possibly predict whether a person has not slept for 24 hours, helping fleet managers and aviation authorities prevent sleep-deprived drivers and pilots from commanding vehicles.

Researchers at Monash University, Australia, reported recently in Science Advances ( that they had identified five biological markers in the blood of healthy individuals, which together predicted with more than 99% accuracy if they had not slept for 24 hours. "The sleep science field has been working toward biological markers of sleep deprivation and/or restriction for many years now, and our discovery is an important step forward in this respect," says Clare Anderson, who was a Professor at the Monash School of Psychological Sciences and is now at the University of Birmingham, U.K. "Our metabolomics marker of sleep deprivation is both accurate and developed to be reproducible," the Professor of Sleep and Circadian Science says.

Her team had earlier worked with transport authorities in Victoria, Australia, to develop techniques to identify people with sleep loss-associated driving impairments. They had, for instance, examined the potential of pupil-scanning technology for measuring fatigue in drivers.


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