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Sleep in the City - Best and Worst Cities for Sleep

Sleep in the City

Best and Worst Cities for Sleep

As our lifestyle becomes increasingly stressful due to work, relationships, and world events, the need for sleep becomes ever more important. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (Sleep in America), nearly seven out of 10 Americans said they experience frequent sleep problems. Sleep loss has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road. For these reasons, we are updating our original 2004 Sleep in the City analysis.


Best City for Sleep: Orange County, CA

This year's Best City for Sleep is the "O.C." - Orange County, California. Located just south of Los Angeles, the Orange County metro area includes the cities of Anaheim and Irvine. Orange County was last year’s runner-up, and recorded the highest number of days of restful sleep per month, 23.5. Like this year’s runner-up and neighboring metro, Los Angeles, Orange County has a challenging commute, but a low divorce rate and solid economy.



Worst City for Sleep: Atlanta, GA

For the 2006 analysis, Atlanta displaced Detroit as the worst city for sleep, falling 15 places in the rankings. Its residents reported the third-fewest days of restful sleep, at 20.3 days per month. This was coupled with below-average scores for commute time, unemployment rate, and divorce rate.


See complete list


As in the 2004 analysis, the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were included in the analysis, as defined by the United State Census Bureau. For consistency with the previous analysis, we used the same 50 metro areas.

The analysis was based on four criteria:

  • # of days in the last month that respondents did not get enough rest or sleep
  • Average length of daily commute
  • Divorce rate
  • Unemployment rate


There are many factors that can have an impact on sleep. For this analysis, the criteria of commute, divorce, and unemployment was used and based on research documented in the 2005 and 2001 Sleep in America polls, published by the National Sleep Foundation. These reports highlight factors of lifestyle and behavior common to individuals having sleep problems.

Divorce rate was considered to be indicative of problems with marital relationships, unemployment rate was included as a measure of stress which is likely to contribute to sleep problems, and a lengthy commute was assumed to directly reduce a person’s time available for sleep.


The Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) analyzed received points for each of the criteria based on their relation to the other MSAs' scores in that data category. To maintain consistency throughout the analysis, the most significant data element for any given category (that which implied the conditions most conducive to or indicative of good and ample sleep) received a score of 100 points. The data element for any given category which was associated with the least amount of or lowest quality of sleep received a score of 0 points.

The remaining cities were assigned point values between 0 and 100 based on their data element's percentage of the range between the most desirable score in that category and the least desirable score in that category. In this way, the point values assigned to cities preserve the proportionality of the data points in relation to the data set while providing a common point scale.

Category scores were weighted and aggregated to determine an overall sleep index for each MSA. The criteria of sleep loss received the greatest weighted value, while other criteria received a lower weighted value.

Data sources

  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the years 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 2000. The number of respondents averaged 1,340 per metro area for these specific questions. The questions used from the BRFSS survey:
    - During the past 30 days, for about how many days have you felt you did not get enough rest or sleep?
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Unemployment Series, April, 2006
  • U.S. Census Bureau, 2003 demographic estimates, American Community Survey

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