Mapping Sleep Habits: New Study Finds Sleep Patterns Linked to Geography

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Where you sleep apparently matters – and I don’t just mean whether your bedroom is dark enough or whether your bed is sufficiently comfortable. A new study by sleep researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, reported in Science Daily, suggests that sleep patterns and habits vary by state.

The study reviewed survey responses from 157,319 adults who participated in phone interviews during the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System undertaken in 2006.

Apparently, sleepers in the south are more likely to report poor sleep and daytime tiredness, while western states are more likely to be well rested. The results are published online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Sleep and Location

Apparently, the relationship between sleep and geographic region is largely unexamined. The Penn study suggests that self-reported instances of fatigue and poor sleep vary by region. According to the authors of the study, many of the states that support the worst sleep habits and patterns are the same states that report higher instances of co-occurring conditions, like Restless Legs Syndrome or obesity.

Researchers looked at a range of potential underlying causes for the discrepancies between regions. After a series of tests, the study results showed that differences in access to medical care, racial/ethnic composition, and mental health difficulties were the most likely factors.

The study may have practical applications for helping people in problem regions sleep better. The data can, for example, be used to guide the allocation of funds to public awareness of sleep problems in regions that report the greatest problems with dysfunctional sleep.

This study is the first of its kind. With regular updates on regional variation in disordered sleep, we can begin to target sleep problems with specific tools and techniques designed with local populations in mind.

It kinda gives “think globally, act locally” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it? We all sleep – it’s a global phenomenon. But some of us don’t sleep as well as others, and the reasons some of us don’t sleep as well as others may be specific to our part of the world. With a better understanding of what causes local problems, we can find better solutions for long-term changes in sleep patterns. With that kind of detailed understanding, we could literally create a healthier world.

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you think your neighbor has trouble for the same reasons you do?

Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist Latexmattress.org

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