By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s estimated that sleep deprivation is a factor in 100,000 car crashes in the U.S. every year. According to AAA, drivers who sleep only five to six hours in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to get into a car accident. Airline pilots and people who operate heavy machinery are also at risk, but we currently have no objective way of knowing.

Now researchers in England are developing a test that can tell whether someone is sleep-deprived or well-rested based on a sample of blood.

In the study, published in the journal Sleep, researchers had 36 participants stay awake for 40 hours and performed blood tests looking for genetic evidence of acute inflammation. They then used a computer algorithm which was able to distinguish between a sleep-deprived and well-rested person with 92-percent accuracy.

The hope is to eventually have a screening test that can be used by police and employers to know if a driver is fit to drive or if an employee is fit to work.

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