A variety of factors impact how well we sleep, from our personal health and happiness to environmental factors like air and noise pollution. Each person is different. For example, a person with allergies will sleep better in a cleaner city, but pollution might not be such a big deal to a person without allergies.
We ranked the top 150 cities in the U.S. to find the best and worst cities for sleep. You can look at the data below to see how your city stacks up.
In our professional opinion, here are the best and worst cities for sleep in the United States:
|Best Cities for Sleep||Worst Cities for Sleep|
|Colorado Springs, CO|
Sioux Falls, SD
Keep reading to learn more about our methodology, see a full list of the rankings for the top 150 cities, and how we chose our top 5 cities.
About our methodology
To determine the best and worst cities for sleep in the United States, we looked at how cities rank on different factors related to sleep, including:
- Sleep deprivation
- Obesity rates
- Unemployment rate
- Commute time
- Air quality
- Light pollution
- Ongoing construction
Below we explain the impact each factor has on sleep and how we sourced our data.
The average adult requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, much of America doesn’t achieve that, due to poor health, increased work and family obligations, and emotional factors like anxiety and depression. Worse, sleep deprivation has real negative effects on your health, ranging from reduced cognitive processing and poorer memory to irritability and increased risk of weight gain and depression.
Using 2014 survey data, the CDC found that more than a third of Americans don’t get sufficient sleep on a regular basis (35.2 percent). Perhaps surprisingly, as a state Hawaii reported the lowest levels of adequate sleep at 56 percent, while South Dakota got the most sleep at 72 percent. Individuals living in the southeastern part of the U.S. and Appalachia reported the lowest amounts of sleep, which may be associated with the higher rates of obesity and poor health in those regions.
The map below reveals the percentage of adults reporting less than 7 hours of sleep by county.
For our rankings, we used the 2014 numbers from the CDC for the age-adjusted prevalence of adults sleeping less than 7 hours by city.
Obesity is correlated with higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea and snoring which interfere with sleep. Being in good physical health helps ensure you achieve a restful night’s sleep. Sufficient exercise and healthy diets free of overly fatty or sugary ingredients also promote restful sleep.
More than one-third of American adults have obesity, according to the CDC. Their Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System reviews state data on the average adult’s diet, physical activity, and obesity status. In the map below, the darker colors signify higher rates of obesity.
For our rankings, we looked at the 2015 percentages of adults who have obesity by state.
Just like physical health, being emotionally healthy can significantly impact your ability to sleep well. Depression is linked with insomnia and disturbed sleep. Workaholics tend to suffer from sleep disorders. Alternately, having job security and ties to your community can reduce anxiety associated with insomnia.
For our data, we referenced the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics state unemployment numbers for June 2017, when the the national unemployment rate was 4.4%.
The average American spends 25.5 minutes each way commuting to work.
How does your commute time impact your sleep? Workers with shorter commute times tend to be more productive and report more job satisfaction. Happier people tend to have an easier job falling asleep at night. People recognize the impact commuting takes on their happiness, which is why they often list it as one of the most important factors in choosing a place to live.
Lower commute times are also associated with lowered health risks of diabetes and depression (the first of which can lead to sleep apnea, and both of which often co-exist with insomnia).
For our dataset, we relied on a study by real estate website Trulia. They listed average commute times for 50 major metropolitan areas. As one might expect, larger cities have longer commute times.
Poor air quality is associated with higher rates of asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer. Asthma is associated with increased risk for obstructive sleep apnea, which in turn can contribute to heart failure.
Further, air pollution makes it tougher to exercise outside, which can reduce physical fitness levels and lead to other health problems that interfere with sleep.
For assessing air quality, we looked to the American Lung Association. Each year, their State of the Air Report lists the 25 cleanest and the 25 most polluted cities, based on their levels of ozone, short-term particle, and year-round particle pollution.
Light pollution interferes with your body’s circadian rhythms, confusing your brain about when it’s time to release hormones like melatonin that induce sleep. This is why using electronic devices at night can make it more difficult to fall asleep – the concentration of blue wavelengths in the devices trick your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, so you stay awake and alert for longer than you should.
The latest artificial night sky atlas, published in the journal Science Advances in 2016, reveals that over 99 percent of Americans live under light-polluted skies. In fact, our night skies are so polluted, that only 20 percent of us can see the Milky Way, our nearest galaxy.
Cities in the eastern half of the country are worse off, especially in the northeastern seaboard from Washington D.C. to Boston. The West Coast offers darker nighttime skies, with the exception of the major metropolitan areas surrounding San Francisco and los Angeles.
The problems associated with light pollution, which range from species extinction to poor sleep, has led more cities to designate themselves as Dark Sky Communities. Managed by the International Dark-Sky Association, these communities use quality outdoor lighting solutions and educate residents about dark sky stewardship so individuals can be thoughtful about the types of lighting they use and place in their homes.
American Dark Sky cities include:
- Beverly Shores, IN
- Big Park / Village of Oak Creek, AZ
- Borrego Springs, CA
- Dripping Springs, TX
- Flagstaff, AZ
- Homer Glen, IL
- Horseshoe Bay, TX
- Sedona, AZ
- Thunder Mountain Pootsee Nightsky, AZ
- Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, CO
While the majority of cities on our list are too urban to not be affected by light pollution, we designated in our rankings below whether or not a city is located by a dark sky city.
Many American cities are in a period of growth right now. While this bodes well for the economy, it’s not so great for sleep. The noise from construction interferes with one’s ability to get restful sleep. During the daytime, construction creates congestion that may lead to longer commutes and higher stress levels. Stress and anxiety are two major risk factors for insomnia, a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep at night and/or stay asleep.
Best cities for sleep
Honorable Mention: Austin, TX
While the state is slightly above average for obesity and the unemployment rate is about average, the city of Austin boasts a below average commute time, a designation as one of the Cleanest Cities in America, and one of the lowest sleep deprivation rates in the country. Plus, two Dark Cities are within its greater metropolitan area – Dripping Springs and Horseshoe Bay.
5. Lincoln, NE
Lincoln is one of the Cleanest Cities in America. The capital city of Nebraska has an unemployment rate below 3 percent, and just over 30 percent of its residents report getting fewer than the recommended 7 hours of sleep.
4. Portland, OR
Portland has one of the lowest sleep deprivation rates in the country. It’s slightly below average on obesity and unemployment rates, and it has a commute time shorter than most cities.
3. Boise, ID
Boise ranks in the bottom percentile of cities who don’t get enough sleep. The state also boasts a below average unemployment and obesity rates, at 3.1 and 28.6 percent respectively.
2. Sioux Falls, SD
Sioux Falls is one of the Cleanest Cities in America, and its unemployment rate is well below average at 3 percent. While i ranks about average for health and obesity, it’s one of the cities that experiences sleep deprivation the least, with only 27.4 of Sioux Falls residents getting less than enough sleep on a regular basis.
1. Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado is likely one of the happiest and healthiest states in the nation, with an unemployment rate of just 2.3 percent and only 20 percent of its citizens classifying as obese. Plus, Colorado Springs is a Cleanest City, has one of the lowest sleep deprivation rates, and is located near the Dark City of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff.
Worst cities for sleep
Dishonorable Mention: New York, NY
It’s fitting that New York is known as “the city that never sleeps.” It is constantly undergoing construction, is listed as one of the most polluted cities in America, and claims the worst average commute time of any city-dweller, at 34.7 minutes (compared to the national average of 25.5). A quarter of New Yorkers qualify as obese, and its state unemployment rate is slightly above average.
5. Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia is one of the Most Polluted Cities in America. At 5 percent, its unemployment rate is well above average. A full 30 percent of Philadelphians are obese, and 44.3 percent don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. Did we mention the ongoing construction?
4. Cleveland, OH
Cleveland’s unemployment rate is well above the average, at 5 percent. Just under 30 percent of Clevelanders are obese, and over 45 percent of them don’t get 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Cleveland also ranks as one of the Most Polluted Cities.
3. Birmingham, AL
Birmingham holds the rare distinction of making both the most polluted and cleanest cities lists While it’s one of the cleanest cities when it comes to short-term particle pollution, it’s one of the worst when it comes to year-round particle pollution. Its unemployment rate is slightly above average, and it claims one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation at 35.6 percent. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of the worst cities for sleep, with nearly 47 percent of Birmingham’s consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep.
2. Newark, NJ
About an hour away from New York, Newark boasts similarly air- and light- polluted skies. It also has one of the highest commute times, way above the average at 31.1 minutes each way. Its unemployment rate is about average, but a full-quarter of Newarkers are obese and nearly half of them consistently get fewer than 7 hours of sleep.
1. Detroit, MI
When it comes to poor sleep, Detroit unfortunately is the winner. Over half of adults in Detroit report getting fewer than 7 hours per sleep on a regular basis. Besides that, it’s experiencing high levels of construction, which worsens congestion, traffic times, noise pollution, and everyone’s mood. It’s also one of the Most Polluted Cities in America, as well as one of the most obese, with nearly one-third of residents qualifying as obese.