Here's an example of how society's lack of respect for the power of sleep deprivation creates a more dangerous world for us all: It's common these days for trucking companies to sign "guaranteed contracts" with their customers, which guarantee delivery of goods on a certain date (the day the recipient expects to be low on inventory), thus saving the recipient the cost of warehousing inventory.

Since the customer needs the new shipment to replenish supplies, on-time delivery is crucial. Unfortunately, the responsibility for meeting this deadline falls squarely upon the truck drivers involved — if the delivery isn't on time, they're not paid for the haul.

As a result, many of the big rigs hurtling along our highways are being driven by truckers who are severely sleep-deprived. In fact, a study done in 1988 by the Arizona Department of Public Safety showed that between 42 and 49 percent of all commercial vehicle accidents in that state were due to sleepy drivers.