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Sleepless Cities

Sleepless Cities -

the worst and best cities for sleep

Louisville, KY is most sleep-challenged, Honolulu the best-rested.

Portland, OR, November 6, 2011: Bert Sperling releases the results of his latest study on sleeplessness, and finds that Louisville, Kentucky has the distinction of being the most challenged large city in the United States for restful sleep. The tropical city of Honolulu, Hawaii is the spot where residents are most likely to start their day feeling refreshed and ready to go.

“With all the stresses of today’s lifestyle, it’s more important than ever to get a good night’s rest to face tomorrow’s challenges. But getting that restful and refreshing sleep is a problem for many Americans,” says Bert Sperling, lead researcher on the new study.

Louisville (KY), New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Tampa take the top five spots for sleeplessness, and Honolulu, San Diego, San Jose, Richmond (VA) and San Francisco are the five places where people are getting a restful sleep.

The new study ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, home to fully half of the U.S. population. The Sperling study analyzes over 400,000 responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (the world’s largest telephone survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and also considers factors contributing to poor sleep, such as joblessness, divorce, and lengthy commuting.

“Residents in some cities are facing more stress than those in other places,” notes Sperling. “The worries of unemployment or divorce fill our mind, and the grind of a lengthy daily commute eats into the time we should be resting. Some cities are facing more challenges than others during this recession.”

The top ten metros for sleeplessness are:

  1. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
  2. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
  3. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  4. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA
  5. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  6. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
  7. Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
  8. Indianapolis-Carmel, IN
  9. Birmingham-Hoover, AL
  10. Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA

And the ten best-rested places are:

  1. Honolulu, HI
  2. San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
  3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  4. Richmond, VA
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
  6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA
  8. San Antonio, TX
  9. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  10. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA

See the full ranking of 50 metro areas

In commenting on the study, Sperling said, “The results show some interesting patterns. Florida has two spots in the top ten, perhaps due to the stress of the recent housing meltdown in that state, and the lifestyle of mega-metros such as New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta can take a toll on getting enough sleep.”

He continues, “I’m not surprised about the good showings of Honolulu and Minneapolis. Those two places consistently score high on our lists of wellness indicators. But the fact that California has five of the top ten spots is unexpected. This is in spite of a troubled and stressful economy.”

One interesting fact is the reported number of sleepless days reported in the CDC BRFSS data. Over the three years of data analyzed for this study, the average number of days has actually decreased each year from 2008 to 2010. Survey respondents reported an average of 5% less sleepless days in 2010 than 2008.

“Our world was rocked in 2008 by the financial crisis, and it may be that people are slowly adjusting to the changes,” suggests Sperling. “We’ll be tracking this data going forward and we are interested to see how it changes over time.”


Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2008-2010, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Unemployment rate, Bureau of Labor Statistics, August, 2011
Percent population who are divorced, Census American Community Survey, 2010
Average commute time, Census American Community Survey, 2010

About Bert Sperling and Sperling’s BestPlaces

Bert Sperling has been profiled in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal regarding his studies of quality of life in cities and towns, and is widely acknowledged as the leader in this field. His lists and rankings appear regularly in the media, and he is the author of bestselling books, such as “Cities Ranked and Rated” and “Best Places to Raise Your Family.”

The website www.bestplaces.net has tools that allows visitors to compare the cost of living in two places, find their own best place, obtain school, weather and crime information for over 80,000 places. Information is organized at the zip-code, city, county and metro area level.