How Sleep Keeps You Young
Do you often find yourself guzzling yet another cup of coffee just to stay awake? Chances are you're not getting enough sleep -- and that could spell trouble for your health. "Sleep deprivation certainly increases risk of heart disease," says Keith Roach, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Sharecare and co-creator of the RealAge® Test."It also increases risk of obesity, worsens memory, increases anxiety and depression and may increase risk of excess alcohol use." However, getting adequate sleep -- at least six hours, but no more than nine -- can make your RealAge as much as 1.5 years younger if you're a woman and 0.9 years younger if you're a man. That's why we factored sleep into our RealAge Youngest & Oldest Cities in America Report. Find out the top 10 cities where residents get the most sleep and which cities have residents who are the most sleep-deprived.
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1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
A lot of sleep is brewing in Milwaukee! The Brew City tops our list of most well-rested cities in America. That could be why Milwaukee is also number one for having both low rates of hypertension and C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and heart disease risk. According to an Emory University study, people who slept fewer than six hours had higher C-reactive protein levels compared to those who slept six to nine hours. Residents here also rank second for having a healthy mouth. That may be no coincidence, as sleep disorders like insomnia can increase stress and lead to nighttime jaw clenching, which can ultimately damage your teeth and ruin your smile.2. Washington, DC
Politics aren't keeping Washington, DC, residents up at night. Along with being one of the youngest cities in America, residents here don't skimp on sleep. We don't know for sure why, but that could be because the nation's capitol also ranks number one for income and three for employment. "Being without a job can cause depression, stress and anxiety, which can wreak havoc with sleep," says sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD. "Losing a job also often means losing the schedule that goes with employment, and that loss of routine can lead to irregular bedtimes and wake times, and too much sleep."
Pittsburgh isn't just home to the Steelers and Pirates; it's also home to some of the best sleepers in America. Getting enough sleep could be why Steel City residents have exceptionally low rates of C-reactive protein and diabetes. Researchers have found that lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance, a condition that prevents glucose from getting into your cells for fuel. Over time, insulin resistance can result in high blood sugar levels, increasing your risk for diabetes.
4. Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati residents don't need to count sheep. The Queen City takes the number four spot on our Best Cities for Sleep list. While Cincinnatians generally don't rank as well when it comes to exercise, stress, high blood pressure or cholesterol, there is one thing this city has that may help its residents sleep better: A lot of happy marriages. One study out of the University of Pittsburgh found that happily married women had less trouble falling asleep and staying asleep -- and enjoyed more restful sleep -- than unhappily married women.
5. Chicago, Illinois
The Windy City is our fifth best city for sleep. Coincidentally, it's also the second best city for drinking alcohol in moderation (for men) -- which may help boost their sleep ranking. That's because drinking higher amounts of alcohol can reduce REM sleep, the deepest and most restful stage of slumber. Another plus: Chicago made our top 10 list for cities with the least stress. According to a National Sleep Foundation study, stress caused by finances, jobs and relationships are the most common complaints that keep people up at night. The brain perceives these problems as threats it needs to process and solve, so it can't turn off its alert system and let the sleep drive take over. The bottom line? Controlling stress can be a linchpin of a healthy sleep plan.
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6. Boston, MA
Boston can add getting a lot of Zzs to the long list of healthy habits that keep its residents young. All that sleep could be why Beantown ranks in the top 10 for having low rates of diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It's also first for insurance, second for drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and fifth for having happy marriages -- all factors that can contribute to sound slumber. Finally, Boston ranks fifth for exercise, and studies show that being physically active during the day can help you drift off at night.
7. Raleigh, NC
North Carolina's capital city takes the number seven spot on our sleep list. Getting enough sleep may be why Raleigh residents rank fifth for low levels of hypertension. Adequate sleep is key to keeping your blood pressure low. When you skimp on sleep, your body boosts the production of stress hormones, which causes your heart rate to speed up. Over time, those stress hormones can turn temporary spikes into permanent high blood pressure.
8. San Antonio, Texas
Residents certainly aren't sleep deprived in San Antonio, which ranks eighth on our list. Interestingly, this Texas town is just shy of making the top 10 for sexual satisfaction in women - which could make for better sleep. "Even a single restless night can raise stress levels and lower arousal," says sex therapist Ian Kerner, PhD. "The better rested you are, the better sex you're able to have." Several studies have also found a strong correlation between obstructive sleep apnea and sexual dysfunction in women. Additionally, San Antonio residents rank highly for having strong social networks. That's important, since people with insomnia are less likely to engage in social activities.
9. Philadelphia, PA
Too many cheesesteaks may not help Philadelphians' waistlines (or heart health), but all that meat may help them sleep. Anemia, or iron deficiency, is a little known cause of insomnia, and iron-rich foods like red meat may help improve sleep. (Just don't eat more than two or three servings per week.) Some other habits that may contribute to Philadelphia's ranking: The city is in the top 10 for drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, having good cholesterol and sexual satisfaction in both men and women.
Rounding out our top cities list is our ninth youngest city in America. Hartford residents eat healthy (lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains), drink moderate amounts of alcohol and have good cholesterol. They also rank second for not smoking. That could be one more reason why Hartford made our Best Sleep list: Epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins Medical Center found that smokers took longer to fall asleep and experienced less total sleep time than non-smokers.
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