The Best (And Worst) Areas In The Country For Sleep

Appalachia struggles with a disproportionate disease burden, and poor sleep is part of it.

We know Americans aren't getting the requisite 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night that the National Sleep Foundation recommends. But some areas of the country are in much worse shape than others.

A study published in the September issue of the journal Sleep Health analyzed data from 2,231 U.S. counties, deeming 84 of them "sleep hotspots," or areas with high levels of insufficient sleep. Appalachia stood out as a major hub for sleep deprivation, with the top 17 counties with the highest sleep deprivation rates (15 of them with reporting extremely high levels of poor sleep).

"This area is a hotspot for many other negative health conditions," Michael Grandner, director of the sleep and health research program at the University of Arizona and lead author of the study, told The Huffington Post. "Since sleep is so intricately woven into many other aspects of health, it was not surprising that poor sleep is another problem that this area seems to be struggling with."

Indeed, poor sleep is connected to myriad health problems, including an increased risk for stroke, diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart problems and memory loss.

Appalachia is disproportionately affected by chronic health problems, such as obesity and diabetes, linked to socioeconomic factors like lack of education, high unemployment rates and lack of access to care. But it's unclear how, exactly, poor sleep fits into the equation. As the study authors wrote, "It may be the case that so many of the risk factors that are particularly prevalent in this area are also commonly identified as either risk factors for poor sleep or potential effects of poor sleep."

In comparison, the researchers identified 45 counties as sleep "coldspots," or communities with abnormally high levels of sufficient sleep. Unlike the hotspots concentrated in Appalachia, the coldspot counties were scattered across the country, including small clusters in Texas, northern Virginia and the northern Midwest. The researchers did not identify a clear pattern among these communities.

See the map below for which regions are getting the best, and the worst, sleep:
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