Sleep in the city. Where you live can affect how you sleep.

2 June, 2011

“Let there be a panorama of open eyes and bitter inflamed wounds.  Out in the world, no one sleeps.  No one.  No one.  I’ve said it before. No one sleeps.” Federico Garcia Lorca : “City Without Sleep”

A recent poll of over half a million Americans has shown a direct link between the city in which they live and the quality of their sleep.

Amongst the findings of the “Sleep in the City” study, conducted by Bert Sperling, Minneapolis was ranked as the best place for restful sleep, Detroit was identified as the least likely city to wake up refreshed and New York City is notorious for being “the city that never sleeps.”

According to the research, two factors play a particularly important role in the relationship between the city in which you live and whether you are likely to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

The happiness Index for the city. Although the research showed no direct link between “feeling happy and such factors as having a higher income, educational attainment, being fit and thin or having a job,” it did find a close correlation between “an individual’s level of happiness and the amount of sleep or rest a person gets each day.”

Unemployment.  Cities with higher unemployment levels are likely to rank low down on the list of cities associated with a good night’s sleep.

In further research conducted in the UK by TV shopping channel QVC, two other factors come to the surface.  48% of respondent associated their sleep problems with money troubles, and a further 34% put their sleep challenges down to relationship issues.

According to the QVC research, the top 5 sleep-deprived UK cities are:

1 Aberdeen (5.23hrs)

2 Chelmsford (5.26hrs)

3 Belfast (5.35hrs)

4 Birmingham (5.42hrs)

5 Gloucester (5.47hrs)

And the top 5 cities for a good night’s snooze are:

1 Norwich (6.38hrs)

2 Plymouth (6.25hrs)

3 Sheffield (6.24hrs)

4 Cardiff (6.22hrs)

5 York (6.21hrs)

Of course, there are other major factors influencing one’s quality of sleep in the city:

  • Noise can be a major environmental component contributing to insomnia if you live in an area where cacophonous street buzz, roaring traffic, rowdy neighbours or deafening air-traffic all challenge your sleep.
  • Light from streetlights, neon signs, headlights and other buildings can also be major sleep-disrupters.
  • The length of your commute, which can affect the amount of time that you have available for sleep.  According to the BBC , UK commutes are the longest in Europe, with an average of 45 minutes.  That could work out at 300 hours a year, contributing to a sleep schedule that is probably already stretched to the limits.

Tips for City Living:

  1. Use earplugs to block out city noise.
  2. Consider a white noise machine to mask the din going on outside.
  3. Use thick curtains or blinds to make sure that your bedroom is as dark as possible at night.
  4. If you feel comfortable in them, wear an eye mask to protect yourself from ambient light.
  5. Make the most of your commute.  If you travel by public transport, cat-nap to revitalize yourself and catch up on some lost sleep.  Also think through your life-challenges and make plans so that you can relax when you get home.

Source:, and

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