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A microsleep is simple and quick form of sleep. This sleep can "last from a few seconds to several minutes." The most dangerous part of microsleep is that it can happen at anytime without any warning
The most dangerous part of microsleep is its random occurrences. It can occur when a person is driving, working heavy machinery, etc.
Microsleeps (or microsleep episodes) become extremely dangerous when occurring during situations which demand constant alertness, such as driving a motor vehicle or working with heavy machinery. People who experience microsleeps usually remain unaware of them, instead believing themselves to have been awake the whole time, or to have temporarily lost focus.
When a driver experiences a microsleep while driving an automobile, the driver has no idea they have fallen asleep for the time elapsed which is very dangerous because they were at a very high risk of having an accident during their mircrosleep.
When experiencing microsleeps while driving an automobile, from the perspective of the driver, he or she drives a car, and then suddenly realizes that several seconds have passed by unnoticed. It is not obvious to the driver that he or she was asleep during those missing seconds, although this is in fact what happened. The sleeping driver is at very high risk for having an accident during a microsleep episode.
Many accidents and catastrophes have resulted from microsleep episodes in these circumstances. For example, a microsleep episode is claimed to have been one factor contributing to the Waterfall train disaster in 2003; the driver had a heart attack and the guard who should have reacted to the train's increasing speed is said by his defender to have microslept, thus causing him to be held unaccountable.
There is little agreement on how best to identify microsleep episodes. Some experts define microsleep according to behavioral criteria (head nods, drooping eyelids, etc.), while others rely on EEG markers. One study at the University of Iowa defined EEG-monitored microsleeps in driving simulation as "a 3–14 second episode during which 4–7 Hz (theta) activity replaced the waking 8–13 Hz (alpha) background rhythm."
- Blaivas AJ, Patel R, Hom D, Antigua K, Ashtyani H (2007). "Quantifying microsleep to help assess subjective sleepiness". Sleep Med. 8 (2): 156–9. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2006.06.011. PMID 17239659.
- Paul, Amit; Linda Ng Boyle, Jon Tippin, Matthew Rizzo (2005). "Variability of driving performance during microsleeps" (PDF). Proceedings of the Third International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design. Retrieved 2008-02-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter
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