Best and Worst U.S. Cities for Sleep

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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 SleepWorst Cities for Sleep
Colorado Springs, CO
Sioux Falls, SD
Boise, ID
Portland, OR
Lincoln, NE
Detroit, MI
Newark, NJ
Birmingham, AL
Cleveland, OH
Philadelphia, PA

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.

Sleep deprivation

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.

CDC sleep deprivation

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 rates

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.

US obesity rates by state

Source: CDC

For our rankings, we looked at the 2015 percentages of adults who have obesity by state.

Unemployment rate

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%.

Commute time

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.

Air quality

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

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.

Heavy/ongoing construction

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

austin best city for sleep

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 nebraska best city for sleepLincoln 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 or best city for sleepPortland 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 best city for sleepBoise 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 best city for sleepSioux 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 springs best city for sleepColorado 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

new york city worst city for sleepIt’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 worst city for sleepPhiladelphia 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 worst city for sleepCleveland’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 alabama worst city for sleepBirmingham 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

newark nj worst city for sleepAbout 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

detroit worst city for sleepWhen 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.

How does your city rank for sleep?

Below is a list of all 150 cities included in our study. See how yours stacks up!

CitySleep Deprivation Rate2015 State Obesity RateJune 2017 State Unemployment RateCommute TimeAir QualityNear Dark CityHeavy/Ongoing Construction
Overland Park, KS26.434.20%3.70%No
Sioux Falls, SD27.430.40%3.00%Cleanest CityNo
Denver, CO28.120.20%2.30%24.6Most Polluted CityNo
Boise, ID28.928.60%3.10%No
Austin, TX2932.40%4.60%23.6Cleanest CityYesYes
Portland, OR29.230.10%3.70%23.4No
Seattle, WA29.926.40%4.50%27Most Polluted CityNoYes
Colorado Springs, CO3020.20%2.30%Cleanest CityYes
Madison, WI30.330.70%3.10%No
Huntington Beach, CA30.424.20%4.70%25.1Most Polluted CityNo
Irvine, CA30.624.20%4.70%25.1Most Polluted CityNo
Lincoln, NE30.731.40%2.90%Cleanest CityNo
Minneapolis, MN30.726.10%3.70%23.6No
Scottsdale, AZ30.828.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Santa Rosa, CA3124.20%4.70%No
St. Paul, MN31.226.10%3.70%No
Des Moines, IA31.332.10%3.20%Cleanest CityNo
Raleigh, NC31.730.10%4.20%No
Gilbert, AZ3228.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Salt Lake City, UT3224.50%3.40%Most Polluted CityNo
Plano, TX32.332.40%4.60%Most Polluted CityNo
Oxnard, CA32.524.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Fremont, CA32.524.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Wichita, KS32.734.20%3.70%No
Albuquerque, NM32.828.80%6.40%No
Omaha, NE32.826.70%2.90%No
Fresno, CA32.924.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Amarillo, TX32.932.40%4.60%No
Spokane, WA32.926.40%4.50%No
Chandler, AZ32.928.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Irving, TX33.132.40%4.60%Most Polluted CityNo
Aurora, CO33.220.20%2.30%Most Polluted CityNo
Laredo, TX33.332.40%4.60%No
Anchorage, AK33.429.80%6.80%Most Polluted CityNo
Lubbock, TX33.532.40%4.60%No
Peoria, AZ33.528.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Durham, NC33.530.10%4.20%No
San Francisco, CA33.624.20%4.70%26.9Most Polluted CityNoYes
Reno, NV33.726.70%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Anaheim, CA33.824.20%4.70%25.1Most Polluted CityNo
El Paso, TX3432.40%4.60%Most Polluted CityNo
Garland, TX3432.40%4.60%Most Polluted CityNo
Tempe, AZ3428.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Cape Coral, FL3426.80%4.10%Cleanest CityNo
Charlotte, NC3430.10%4.20%24.5Cleanest CityNo
Vancouver, WA34.426.40%4.50%No
Santa Clarita, CA34.424.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Grand Prairie, TX34.632.40%4.60%Most Polluted CityNo
Sacramento, CA34.624.20%4.70%24.3Most Polluted CityNo
Springfield, MO34.632.40%3.80%No
San Jose, CA34.624.20%4.70%25Most Polluted CityNo
San Diego, CA34.624.20%4.70%23Most Polluted CityYes
Mesa, AZ34.728.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Rancho Cucamonga, CA34.724.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Bakersfield, CA34.824.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Tucson, AZ34.828.40%5.10%No
Dallas, TX34.932.40%4.60%25.9Most Polluted CityNo
Greensboro, NC3530.10%4.20%Cleanest CityNo
Brownsville, TX35.132.40%4.60%Cleanest CityNo
Washington, DC35.222.10%6.20%32.8NoYes
Glendale, CA35.324.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Corpus Christi, TX35.432.40%4.60%Cleanest CityNo
Oceanside, CA35.424.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Arlington, TX35.532.40%4.60%Most Polluted CityNo
Modesto, CA35.524.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Aurora, IL35.530.80%4.70%No
Phoenix, AZ35.628.40%5.10%23.4Most Polluted CityNo
Kansas City, MO35.632.40%3.80%No
Garden Grove, CA35.624.20%4.70%25.1Most Polluted CityNo
Chula Vista, CA35.724.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Santa Ana, CA35.724.20%4.70%25.1Most Polluted CityNo
Glendale, AZ35.828.40%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Grand Rapids, MI35.831.20%3.80%Most Polluted CityNo
Oklahoma City, OK35.933.90%4.30%Cleanest CityNo
Houston, TX3632.40%4.60%28Most Polluted CityNo
Oakland, CA3624.20%4.70%29.9Most Polluted CityNo
Orlando, FL3626.80%4.10%25Cleanest CityNo
Fort Worth, TX36.132.40%4.60%25.5Most Polluted CityNo
Virginia Beach, VA36.129.20%3.70%22.6Cleanest CityNo
Henderson, NV36.226.70%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Winston-Salem, NC36.330.10%4.20%Cleanest CityNo
Nashville, TN36.333.80%3.60%No
Fort Wayne, IN36.331.30%3.00%Cleanest CityNo
Little Rock, AR36.534.50%3.40%No
Pembroke Pines, FL36.526.80%4.10%Cleanest CityNo
Baton Rouge, LA36.636.20%5.50%Most Polluted CityNo
Tulsa, OK36.633.90%4.30%Cleanest CityNo
Tallahassee, FL36.626.80%4.10%Cleanest CityNo
Hialeah, FL36.726.80%4.10%Cleanest CityNo
San Antonio, TX36.832.40%4.60%24.3Most Polluted CityNo
Boston, MA36.824.30%4.30%30.4NoYes
Port St. Lucie, FL37.126.80%4.10%No
Chicago, IL37.430.80%4.70%30.8YesYes
Lexington-Fayette, KY37.434.60%5.10%Cleanest CityNo
Miami, FL37.426.80%4.10%27.8Cleanest CityNoYes
Los Angeles, CA37.524.20%4.70%27.6Most Polluted CityNoYes
Ontario, CA37.524.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Fontana, CA37.724.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Tacoma, WA37.726.40%4.50%Most Polluted CityNo
Louisville, KY37.834.60%5.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Jacksonville, FL37.826.80%4.10%24No
Chesapeake, VA37.829.20%3.70%Cleanest CityNo
Long Beach, CA37.924.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Tampa, FL37.926.80%4.10%24.5Cleanest CityNo
Stockton, CA3824.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Riverside, CA3824.20%4.70%29.8Most Polluted CityNo
Chattanooga, TN38.133.80%3.60%Cleanest CityNo
St. Petersburg, FL38.326.80%4.10%Cleanest CityNo
Fort Lauderdale, FL38.326.80%4.10%26.2Cleanest CityNo
New Orleans, LA38.536.20%5.50%Cleanest CityNoYes
Cincinnati, OH38.929.80%5.00%23.2Most Polluted CityNo
Las Vegas, NV38.926.70%4.70%22.5Most Polluted CityNo
Knoxville, TN3933.80%3.60%No
St. Louis, MO3932.40%3.80%23.9No
Indianapolis, IN39.231.30%3.00%23.4Most Polluted CityNo
Huntsville, AL39.735.60%4.60%Cleanest CityNo
Memphis, TN39.833.80%3.60%22.5No
San Bernardino, CA39.924.20%4.70%29.8Most Polluted CityNo
Fayetteville, NC39.930.10%4.20%No
Norfolk, VA39.929.20%3.70%Cleanest CityNo
Richmond, VA4029.20%3.70%23.4Cleanest CityNo
Moreno Valley, CA40.124.20%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
Toledo, OH40.229.80%5.00%No
Columbus, OH40.229.80%5.00%21.8Cleanest CityNo
Atlanta, GA40.430.70%4.80%29.2Cleanest CityNoYes
Worcester, MA40.424.30%4.30%No
Pittsburgh, PA40.530.00%5.00%25Most Polluted CityNo
Shreveport, LA40.736.20%5.50%No
Milwaukee, WI40.830.70%3.10%22.3Cleanest CityNo
North Las Vegas, NV4126.70%4.70%Most Polluted CityNo
New York, NY4125.00%4.50%34.7Most Polluted CityNoYes
Yonkers, NY41.225.00%4.50%Most Polluted CityNo
Montgomery, AL41.335.60%4.60%Cleanest CityNo
Newport News, VA41.729.20%3.70%Cleanest CityNo
Mobile, AL42.235.60%4.60%Cleanest CityNo
Rochester, NY42.425.00%4.50%Cleanest CityNo
Providence, RI42.426.00%4.20%24.5No
Columbus, GA42.930.70%4.80%Cleanest CityNo
Jackson, MS43.635.60%5.00%Cleanest CityNo
Buffalo, NY43.625.00%4.50%20.3Cleanest CityNo
Jersey City, NJ43.725.60%4.10%Most Polluted CityNo
Augusta, GA44.130.70%4.80%Cleanest CityNo
Akron, OH44.129.80%5.00%Most Polluted CityNo
Philadelphia, PA44.330%5.00%Most Polluted CityNoYes
Baltimore, MD44.428.90%4.10%29.4No
Cleveland, OH45.429.80%5.00%23.4Most Polluted CityNo
Birmingham, AL46.935.60%4.60%Cleanest & Most PollutedNo
Newark, NJ4825.60%4.10%31.1Most Polluted CityNo
Honolulu, HI4822.70%2.70%Cleanest CityNo
Detroit, MI50.831.20%3.80%24.1Most Polluted CityNoYes

 

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