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DC is ‘US Insomnia Capital’; NYC, the city that ... sleeps like a log

DC is ‘US Insomnia Capital’; NYC, the city that ... sleeps like a log

Washington, DC is not just America’s political capital but also, we can reveal, its “Insomnia Capital”, according to a new study by Calm.

Its inhabitants have a lot more trouble sleeping than those of any other major US city, suggests Calm’s analysis of nearly two million pieces of its own user data.

New York, meanwhile, may be famed as the city that never sleeps but it is unmasked by Calm’s data as the city that these days sleeps like a log. It places near last in Calm’s league table of America’s 25 largest cities ranked by the sleep troubles of their inhabitants.

Indeed, NYC’s inhabitants sleep better than those of any other northern city.

Seattle, however, lives up to the title of Sleepless in Seattle, the classic 1993 movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, by ranking second in Calm’s national insomnia table – well ahead of Dallas in third, San Francisco fourth and Charlotte fifth.

“We live in anxious times”, says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm. “There seem more reasons than ever to lose sleep.” And nowhere more so, it appears, than in the nation’s capital.

Inhabitants of DC, reveals Calm’s data, are more likely than those in any other major US city first to sign up for Calm and then to select “Better sleep” as a goal when doing so. They are also more likely then to go on and consume sleep-related content.

“Washington is the undisputed Insomnia Capital of America,” says Alex Tew, Calm’s co-founder. “No other city comes close.”

This may be fitting given that the capital’s best-known resident – President Trump – reportedly only sleeps three to four hours a night (although, note, he does not attribute this to insomnia).

Inhabitants of northern cities in general seem to have more trouble sleeping than those of southern ones.

So, five of the 10 MOST insomniac cities are northern ones but only two of the 10 LEAST insomniac cities are. Indeed, NYC is the only northern city among the six least insomniac cities.

El Paso is America’s “Best-Slept” City. Its inhabitants appear to have the fewest sleep problems of any city, with Memphis second least and Louisville third.

Columbus is the average city in Calm’s insomnia rankings – the one whose residents sleep most like urban America in general.

New York’s nickname as “the city that never sleeps” derives originally from a 1924 silent movie of that name but was popularized by Liza Minelli in the theme song for the 1973 Martin Scorsese movie, New York New York, and then by Frank Sinatra after her. Both sang the famous lyric, “I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps”.

“Would they sing the same today?” asks Alex Tew. “Our data might make them hesitate.”

Indeed, Calm’s study will only heighten the fears of many New Yorkers that their city is losing its once famed fizz and pace, grit and pulse – and growing gentrified, sterile and sleepy.

It follows a 2011 study of the world’s most 24-hour cities conducted by the dating app Badoo.com, which ranked New York a lowly 32nd place among the world’s most round-the-clock cities, leagues behind the likes of London, Paris and Rome.

Even while New York bars and clubs seem to close ever earlier, the era of the 24/7 New York subway system has now also recently ended.

“Is the Big Apple becoming the Big Sleep,” asks Michael Acton Smith. “Say it ain’t so … but our study suggests it might be.”


How Calm Compiled Its Insomnia League And Ranked US Cities

Calm calculated an “Insomnia Index” for each of America’s 25 largest cities (at the time of the last US Census, in 2010) – designed to measure the sleep troubles of their inhabitants compared to those of the average US city.

Washington, DC not only had the highest Insomnia Index (2.75) of any city but it did so by a wide margin – ahead of Seattle in 2nd place (on 2.22) by nearly 25%, with Dallas then far behind (on 1.10) in third.

New York, by comparison, had a negative index – indicating a below average ranking – of -0.66.

Calm based its “Insomnia Index” on a combination of two factors:

  • First, the percentage of each city’s total population to have picked “Better sleep” as one of their goals on signing up to Calm, and then

  • Second, the percentage of its population that had then completed at least one piece of sleep-related content (such as Sleep Stories, sleep music or meditations) on Calm (as opposed to non sleep-related meditations, classes or other content.)

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The Insomnia League Of America

(America’s 25 Largest Cities, Ranked By Their “Insomnia Index” Calculated By Calm)

  1. Washington DC (2.75) – The Insomnia Capital of America

  2. Seattle (2.22)

  3. Dallas (1.10)

  4. San Francisco (1.07)

  5. Charlotte (0.92)

  6. Austin (0.46)

  7. Boston (0.27)

  8. Houston (0.25)

  9. Chicago (0.16)

  10. Columbus (0.01) The Average City: Sleeps Like Urban America

  11. Baltimore (-0.13)

  12. Philadelphia (-0.28)

  13. Detroit (-0.32)

  14. San Jose (-0.34)

  15. Nashville (-0.41)

  16. Phoenix (-0.44)

  17. Los Angeles (-0.53)

  18. San Antonio (-0.63)

  19. Indianapolis (-0.64)

  20. Fort Worth (-0.65)

  21. New York (-0.66) – “Best-Slept” Northern City

  22. San Diego (-0.80)

  23. Jacksonville (-0.82)

  24. Memphis (-1.20)

  25. El Paso (-1.37) – America’s “Best-Slept” City

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