CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In a study by the Sleep Foundation and the application Sleep Cycle, Corpus Christi was found to be the worst city for sleep.
Data was collected voluntarily and anonymously across the country using the metrics from Sleep Cycle, a snore score the app generates and health infomation from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Census.
Sleep Cycle measures qualities like how long you are in bed, how long you're in deep sleep, your movement and intensity of movement while asleep and the how long you're fully awake. The app also generates a snore score, which detects how long and how intense a person snores.
The data gathered from the CDC and U.S. census relate to a city's propensity for diabetes, obesity and mental health concerns. Data was also gathered on the amount of people with health and dental insurance and how leisure time is spent in a city.
“From this stand point, if we could provide greater education and have the physicians and public awareness increase, I think it would be very good for us," said Raymond Aguilar, a Corpus Christi man with sleep apnea.
All these components combined gave Corpus Christi the low sleep score of 69.5. The top city for sleep was Seattle with a score of 78.29. Factors include anxiety and depression, obesity, diabetes, leisure time and health care.
Aguilar said sleep apnea used to cause him to have bad nights of sleep, consistently waking up. It lead to an unpleasant day the next morning.
“And I fell asleep and caught myself snoring before I woke up," he said. "I felt my heart beating and I felt my heart slowing down. At that point I woke up gasping for air, my heart was pounding and I said, ‘OK, time to do something about it.’”
“So, if your body is not healthy because of some chronic disease, lack of exercise, poor sleep hygiene, obesity, sleep apnea, sleep fragmentation, then obviously your sleep is not going to be as restorative,” Dr. Salim Surani said, a local pulmonologist and sleep specialist.
Surani said Corpus Christi has many challenges for sleep. He said the city has high rates of obesity and diabetes. He also believes the city is not designed well for an active lifestyle, compared to Seattle.
"People age group is much younger," said Surani. "They have a better sense of health maintenance. So, they go to their physician, they get a check. And if you have dental insurance you go to the dentist."
The study found Corpus Christi to have twice as many people as Seattle without health insurance. Twice as many people, per capita, in Seattle report having a dental check up last year. Seattle residents also report having twice as much leisure time than Corpus Christi residents, per capita.
All these are factors that could lead to poor sleep.
Surani said this is correctable. Some things you can do to get better sleep is get more sunlight and exercise, avoid alcohol and caffeine, get a set sleep schedule and learn to manage any nighttime pain.
"When I had my surgery and it was mainly at nighttime I was having pain," said Surani. "So, I would not take the medicine in the morning because I was awake and nighttime I just want to have a sleep. So, I think I'll take a Tylenol or Advil before I go to bed. So, at least my pain is under control."
Other steps could be to turn your television and phone off before bed because the bright lights keep you up. To clear your mind Surani suggests writing your thoughts down so you allow your brain to rest and not have to remember these things. Also, put yourself on a set sleep schedule. Surani has also done research to help those who have varying work shifts and a setting schedule isn't possible.
"A lot of the time what happens is when patients try to adapt or change—there are 10 to15 things you can do," he said. "They want to do everything at the same time, in the process they end up in doing nothing. So, you pick up on one or two or three important things which is a major culprit. Tackle one at a time.”