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Southerners can't get a good night's sleep, study finds

If you’re feeling sleepless in the South, you might consider moving to a different region of the country.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology scrutinized sleep disturbance and daytime sleepiness state-by-state to see if geography had anything to do with sleep quality.

Turns out, the stereotype of a sleepy southern town may be really true.

Southerners had the most problems falling and staying asleep and were also the most likely to report that they felt tired during the day, according to the report published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.  

California residents were among the best rested, with just 17 percent reporting problems sleeping and 18 percent saying they felt fatigued during the day.

Southerners, on the other hand, had lots of problems with daytime fatigue. Almost one-third of adults in West Virginia and Mississippi reported feeling draggy during the day, with about 26 percent of folks in W. Virginia also reporting they sleep badly. And about a quarter of folks in Arkansas and Louisiana complain of daytime tiredness.

Sleep in the Midwest was mixed. While almost 25 percent of people in Oklahoma reported disturbed sleep, only 17 percent of adults in Minnesota have snooze issues.

Neurobiologist Michael A. Grandner, the study’s lead researcher, isn’t sure why geography plays a part in sleep disorders, although he suggested stress may be a possibility. Even when the Pennsylvania researchers factored in weather, day length and health, Southerners still were more negatively affected.

To get a handle on sleep issues, researchers asked “Over the last two weeks, how many days have you had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping too much?”

Researchers delved into sleep quality by asking, “Over the last two weeks, how many days have you felt tired or had little energy?”

The study’s data came from a telephone survey of 157,319 randomly chosen adults. Study volunteers were asked about their health, sex, race/ethnicity, age, alcohol consumption and smoking habits. 

Do you have sleep problems? How do you cope?

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