The United States is a big old place with a lot of diverse lifestyles. Vastly different regions have different problems, solutions, worries, and habits. But at the end of the day everyone needs a good night’s sleep, right?
This made us wonder: are there certain areas in America where people struggle to sleep more than others? Are the ‘night owls‘ confined to certain states, and the ‘larks’ found elsewhere?
To begin, we gathered some of the most up-to-the-minute data we could find on America’s sleep patterns and what they mean for people from different areas. We looked at reports from the CDC and cross-referenced it with some remarkable data collected by Jawbone, a company that specializes in consumer technology and wearable devices.
With these scientific insights into how Americans’ sleep patterns vary, we were able to construct a series of data visualizations to illustrate the patterns that emerged. It shows at a glance the way that America sleeps – so we can begin to think about how we can do things better.
How much sleep does the U.S. Get?
Our first visualization shows the average sleep time of all U.S. states and their regions, presented as a shaded in clock.
Curiously, with the exception of the Southwest, most Americans seem to get a similar amount of sleep on average, a recommended sleep count of seven hours. But within those regional averages, some states are more equal than others: the average North Dakotan, for example, clocks in a mere six hours and 52 minutes each night – fully 21 minutes less than their neighbors in South Dakota.
America the free, the brave & the early birds! What time does America go to bed?
Our second visualization takes the average bedtime of our major cities and puts them into an international context.
We can see from this bar chart who has more reason to stay up late (or perhaps to prepare for an early rise). As you might expect, New York – the city that never sleeps – tops the chart, with an average lights-out of 11.55pm, towering over Clifton, Arizona’s 10.35pm bedtime. Still, Seoul in South Korea makes a solid claim to be the true city that never sleeps – the average bedtime is not until after one in the morning.
Which U.S. states struggle to sleep?
Our third and final visual reveals which U.S. states struggle to sleep.
An unvarying gold ring represents the seven hours of sleep that we are all recommended to get each night. But the actual amount of sleep our cities get, represented by a dark circle, is transposed on top of this. The cities inside the gold ring are not sleeping so snugly and are getting less than the ideal seven hours.
A further variation, represented as a ‘pie chart’ within the cities’ individual circles, shows what percentage of each city’s population is getting their full sleep quota. It shows, for example, that New York may be the nation’s latest sleepers – but the average bedtime is being dragged up by a significant 38.4% minority of night owls.
Although Washington State was made famous by Sleepless in Seattle, it’s actually Hawaii that wins the “Sleepless in the States” prize, with almost 44% of Hawaii residents getting less than the recommended minimum of 7 hours slumber.
Looking for a good night’s sleep?
How to Prepare Your Bedroom for a Good Night’s Sleep
Whatever the sleeping habits in your part of the country, when it comes to your own bedroom you can take control to help you get a better night’s sleep.
- Switch to Yellow Light
- Scent it with Lavender
- Blackout Your Windows
- Opt for Egyptian Cotton
- Avoid Brightly-Colored Walls
- Clear Up The Clutter
- Naturally Purify the Air with Plants
1. Switch to Yellow Light
The blue light of fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights can confuse your body clock and disrupt your sleep pattern. Combine yellow bulbs with warm-colored lampshades, and keep your computer in a different room. [i]
2. Scent it With Lavender
Research has shown that the smell of lavender relaxes people and encourages a good night’s sleep. Try keeping lavender pouches in your wardrobe to keep your clothes fresh and add a subtle aroma to the room. [ii]
3. Blackout Your Windows
Our bodies are programmed to sleep in the dark. Thick, dark curtains allow you to regulate the light in your room, and will also absorb outdoor sounds if you live in a noisy area. [iii]
4. Opt for Egyptian Cotton
Egyptian cotton has a finer yarn than regular cotton, making for a softer, more comfortable weave. It also more porous, allowing air to flow through and prevent you feeling stuffy. [iv]
5. Avoid Brightly-Colored Walls
Environmental psychologist Sally Augustin, Ph.D. points out that certain colors promote calmness in a room. Sage green, soft grays and pastel blues will all quiet your surroundings. [v]
6. Clear up the Clutter
Augustin also mentions that a messy room will create a stressful environment. Allow for plenty of storage space when re-designing your bedroom – including a big chest you can throw clothes into when you’re tired.
7. Naturally Purify the Air with Plants
Aside from being very relaxing, keeping plants in a small room can help purify the air so that you breathe better at night.
If you’re a journalist interested in covering this project, we encourage you to use any of the graphics included above. When doing so, please attribute the authors by providing a link back to this page so your readers can learn more about this project and the related research. If you’d like to discuss this project or any of our other research, reach out to us at [email protected].
- [i] Harvard Health Publications. 2016. Blue light has a dark side. health.harvard.edu
- [ii] University of Hertfordshire. 2008. Scientists Create ‘World’s Most Relaxing Room’. ScienceDaily.com
- [iii] Thornhill, J. Date unknown. How To Make Your Bedroom A Relaxing Retreat. dreams.co.uk
- [iv] Lacourse, T. 2012. Tips For Making Your Bedroom A Stress Free Zone. apartmenttherapy.com
- [v] Martz, T. (2015). 6 Scientifically-Proven Ways To Create A Stress-Free Bedroom. thelala.com
- Nolan, T. 2014. Dance to the (Circadian) rhythm. jawbone.com
- Wilt, B. 2014. In the City That We Love. jawbone.com
- Spickernell, S. 2014. Early to bed and late to rise: Londoners sleep more than people in most major cities. cityam.com
- Yong Liu, Md. et al. 2016. Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults – United States, 2014. cdc.gov
- Smokensky, M. Are You a Lark, an Owl, or a Hummingbird? nasw.org
- National Sleep Foundation. 2016. Electronics in the Bedroom: Why it’s Necessary to Turn off Before You Tuck in. sleepfoundation.org