Survey Finds Washington DC Seventh Worst Place to Sleep in US

February 28, 2023 by Dan McCue
Survey Finds Washington DC Seventh Worst Place to Sleep in US
(Photo by ddimitrova via Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — The nation’s capital is the seventh worst place to get a good night’s sleep in the United States, but it’s far ahead of other East Coast cities, including Boston, New York, Miami and Philadelphia, according to a new study by U.S. News and World Report’s 360 Reviews.

Conversely, with one exception — Raleigh, North Carolina — all of the best places for a good night’s sleep and overall sleep health are in the American West, with Austin, Texas, coming in first place.

The remainder of the Top 10 are the aforementioned Raleigh, at number two, Fort Worth, Texas, San Diego, California, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Omaha, Nebraska, San Jose, California. and Tucson, Arizona.

The absolute pits for sleep are, in order from the very bottom: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miami, Florida, Detroit, Michigan, New York, New York, Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Boston, Massachusetts, Long Beach and Fresno, both in California.

Before reaching their conclusions, researchers at U.S. News and World Report parsed data from the individual cities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Data for Nashville, Tennessee, and Honolulu, Hawaii, were not included due to missing geographic data. Since New York City is made up of five separate counties, data from each of these counties were averaged into a single mean score for the city. 

As they assessed the data, the researchers looked at the impact of five key factors: air quality, noise pollution, light pollution, physical activity and sleep duration.

All factors were assigned a weighted percentage to reach a total of 100%.

“While all factors in our sleep health study are important, short sleep duration was the most telling, and also reflects the consequences of other study factors such as road noise, air quality and prevalence of physical activity,” said Haniya Rae, sleep feature editor, 360 Reviews, in a press release announcing the results.

Overall, the researchers concluded one is less likely to get a good night’s sleep in the eastern U.S., because the cities there are generally much older and much more interconnected than those on the western side of the country.

As a result of these two factors, they also fare worse when it comes to all types of pollution.

In densely packed cities and suburbs, you may be more likely to hear machinery and transportation vehicles make loud noises at night. When persistent unwanted sounds, also called noise pollution, disturb one’s sleep cycle, it can impact your body’s ability to repair itself.

Areas with heavy traffic, manufacturing, or energy or waste facilities can also lead to poor sleep via high air pollution concentrations, the researchers said.

Whether indoors or outside, air pollution can lead to disordered breathing, which can cause snoring and wheezing. This may contribute to shorter sleep duration.

Nighttime artificial light interferes with the body’s circadian rhythm, or your body’s biological clock that tells you when to wake and when to sleep, potentially causing insomnia and other chronic illnesses. Unfortunately, any type of pollution near your home could affect how well you sleep.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guidelines recommend adults aged 18-60 get seven hours or more of sleep per night.

Decline in sleep quality can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or any number of physical and mental health ailments. Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and following a healthy bedtime routine helps, but your sleep quality can depend on where you live.

Those who want to sleep better might consider these suggestions:

Put up blackout curtains that can keep out unwanted light from the outside.

Try an air purifier. Though air purifiers can’t clean everything in the air, they can help filter dust, pollen, smoke and dander, all of which can affect your breathing at night.

Turn on a sound machine. If you live in an area with very high levels of noise pollution, such as New York City, there is evidence that the white noise from quality sound machines can help mask unwanted environmental noise.

Upgrade your bedding. Sometimes a new pillow or mattress can make all the difference, especially if it’s been several years since you last purchased either or both.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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