Are you living in a sleep-deprived state? A new study published in the National Sleep Foundation’s journal Sleep Health has mapped out the counties in each state throughout America with the best and worst sleep quality. The findings reveal a pattern to United States’ sleep deprivation.

“Sleep is more than a physiologic process. Understanding the context of sleep will help us understand how and where to target our efforts,” the study’s lead author Michael Grandner, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona, told The Guardian. “It is possible that improving sleep at the population level will be key to improving the public health.”

For the study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set out and asked 432,000 people across the country: “During the past 30 days, for about how many days have you felt you did not get enough rest or sleep?” The results revealed the amount of sleep a person gets each night changes depending upon where they live in America.

The CDC highlighted 84 “hotspots” where their sleep quality was alarmingly poor and 45 “coldspots” where sleep quality wasn’t as much of a concern. The study was done to identify where the sleep quality problems are gravest in order to treat each area according to its needs.

States that were home to the greatest number of counties with high levels of poor sleep were Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia. Meanwhile, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and North Carolina were among the states that had residents with high quality of sleep night after night. The reason for the demographic differences among sleepers may have to do with poor help, financial constraints, and job markets, but the CDC will have to investigate further to fully flesh out the rhyme and reason for such varying sleep patterns.

Sleep Deprivation
After the CDC surveyed Americans and found out they were sleeping differently in each county, a geographic pattern for sleep quality emerged. Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post

In the 1960s, Americans were clocking in an average of 8.5 hours a night, according to Harvard Medical School. Today, as it continues to drop to less than seven hours, the trends point to an even lower figure in years to come. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 International Bedroom Poll, the amount of sleep the average person logs each night has been steadily decreasing over the past century during a five-day work week.

Sleep deprivation is a real life health nightmare. Chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slower reflexes, poor concentration, and increased risk of car accidents. Long-term problems, which pose more severe health consequences, include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. According to the National Sleep Foundation, between 50 and 70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders. If the disorders follow a similar geographic pattern, treatments may be altered to address regions of the country on a supply and demand basis.

“This is just a first step,” Grandner said. “Once we identify where these resources are directed, we can dig deeper to understand why these particular regions are hardest hit and what can be done about it.”

Source: Branas C, Grandner MA, Smith TE, Jackson N, Jackson T, and Burgard S. Geographic distribution of insufficient sleep across the United States: a county-level hotspot analysis. Sleep Health. 2015.