A team of scientists has developed a blood test that can detect when someone has not slept for 24 hours, also called sleep deprivation.

This level of sleep deprivation increases the risk of serious injury or fatality in safety critical situations, according to experts at Monash University in Australia, and the University of Birmingham in the UK.

The biomarker detected whether individuals had been awake for 24 hours with a 99.2 per cent probability of being correct, according to the study published in the journal Science Advances.

“This is a really exciting discovery for sleep scientists, and could be transformative to the future management of health and safety relating to insufficient sleep,” said Clare Anderson, a professor of Sleep and Circadian Science at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

With about 20 per cent of road accidents worldwide caused by sleep deprivation, researchers hope the discovery may inform future tests to quickly and simply identify sleep deprived drivers.

“There is strong evidence that less than five hours’ sleep is associated with unsafe driving, but driving after being awake for 24 hours, which is what we detected here, would be at least comparable to more than double the Australian legal limit of alcohol performance wise,” Anderson added.

The test may be also ideal for future forensic use but further validation is required.

This sleep deprivation biomarker is based on 24 hours or more awake, but can detect down to 18 hours awake.

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