Thursday, October 29, 2009

Getting enough sleep? they aren't in West Virginia

In this Associated Press story, Getting Enough Sleep? They Aren’t In West Virginia, reporter Mike Stobbee writes about the recent Center for Disease Control’s (“CDC”) study showing that among the 50 states, West Virginians have the greatest average of sleepless nights in the Nation. Nearly 1 in 5 West Virginians stated they had not had a single “good night’s sleep” in the previous month. This is nearly double the national average.

What is interesting is the other states which showed higher than average sleepiness were Tennessee, Kentucky and Oklahoma; all of which, along with West Virginia, are usually considered “rural” states. As for what causes this Mountain State insomnia? The article speculates a cycle of bad eating habits, which leads to poor sleep, which then leads to bad eating habits and higher levels of disease...a vicious cycle indeed. According to another CDC study West Virginia also ranks near the top for obesity at 31.2% of its population. Unsurprisingly, Tennessee and Oklahoma are also near the top (30.6% and 30.3%, respectively). These states are three of six states, along with Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina (also generally considered "rural"), which have over 30% of their populations listed as “obese,” which is defined by the CDC as having a Body Mass Index over 30.

Given these connections, must we add ‘fat’ to our definition of “rural”? Perhaps not, because the states with the least degrees of sleepiness are Oregon, California, Wisconsin and North Dakota. All of which, save for North Dakota, also have some of the lower obesity rates in the Country. North Dakota, Oregon and Wisconsin, however, also rank in the bottom half of states in terms of population density.

Is the connection poverty then? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the six states marked as having poor sleeping habits and poor health are also among those with the highest poverty rates (Mississippi being the highest at 21.1%). While the four best sleepers have among the lowest poverty rates.

So perhaps money can’t buy happiness but it sure seems to give you a good night sleep.


CityMouse said...
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CityMouse said...

This is really interesting. I'm fairly certain that sleep is DEFINITELY tied to nutrition, and I guess in some bigger sense, nutrition and food quality is connected with income/wealth. Eating healthy is expensive!

With the assistance of my gym, I am participating in a 60 day Paleo Diet Challenge. On the Paleo Diet, you cannot eat grains, dairy, or legumes of any form. Obviously not sweets, desserts, or caffeine either. I'm on day 20 and haven't cheated one time. Amongst the wide array of benefits I've already noticed - SLEEP! I sleep more soundly than I ever have! According to the diet book I have been following, Paleo diet reduces insulin levels, reduces gut irritation, and keeps the Omega 3/Omega 6 fatty acids in balance in our bodies. This all leads to deeper sleep and a healthier life in general...but again, it costs money to eat this way - veggies an lean meats are not cheap, so I'm discovering.