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30 Most Sleep-Deprived Cities

While the spate of napping air traffic controllers brought national attention to the dangers of sleep deprivation, The Daily Beast parses the data to figure out which U.S. cities are in need of more shut-eye.

05.15.11 12:23 PM ET

As recent news events have proven, functioning on a few hours of sleep isn’t just miserable, it’s dangerous. Last month, several air-traffic controllers were caught sleeping on the job, prompting the FAA to fire a few. Recent studies have proven that sleep deprivation can make people more unethical, less attractive, and can weaken problem-solving skills.

Gallery: 30 Most Sleep-Deprived Cities

But sleep can be more than a personal problem, it can be a regional epidemic. As a federal study concluded in 2008, certain states have higher incidence rates of sleeplessness than others due to high rates of obesity, heart disease, and smoking—health issues that can cause sleeping problems. The study found that West Virginians have double the national rate of sleeplessness, which explains why five of the top 30 most sleep-deprived cities are found in the mountain state.

To compile the sleepiest cities, we partnered with Experian Simmons, which provided a city-by-city tally of sleep-survey data. We considered the percentage of the population that reported minor or severe sleeplessness/insomnia in the last year, as well as the population that used prescription or non-prescription medication to alleviate sleeplessness/insomnia. Rates of sleeplessness was weighted twice that of medication rates to put a statistical precedence on total lack of sleep. Only metro areas with a population greater than 500,000 residents were included. (Among metro areas with just 100,000 residents or more, the top 10 would be Charleston, W.V.; Bluefield, W.V.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Mount Vernon, Ill.; Dayton, Ohio; Wheeling, W.V., Duluth, Wisc.; Clarksburg, W.V.; Parkersburg, W.V.; Panama City Fla.)