I had the opportunity today to hear directly from Louisville residents about their insomnia. I was on WGTK NewsTalk 970 AM for a half-hour, talking about our recent study which named Louisville, KY as the metro area with the most sleeplessness.
One caller talked about the stress of holding down several jobs, but most callers spoke about the allergies and respiratory issues which come from the abundant pollens, spores and molds found in the Ohio Valley. The allergies make breathing difficult, leading to a poor night’s sleep and feeling tired the following day.
This matches nicely with our previous studies focusing on allergies and asthma, which found Louisville as one of the worst places in the country for pollens. (The other allergy hotspot is the Great Plains region, such as Kansas City.) (Nerdy fact – there are four main respiratory allergens; tree pollen, grass pollen, ragweed, and molds and spores. People are often affected by one and not the others.)
It was really valuable to get this feedback, because most research on sleeplessness identifies stress as a one of the key factors. But most callers I spoke with today mentioned allergies as the main cause of their insomnia. Perhaps this will lead to new areas of investigation.
Another key factor of insomnia identified by sleep experts is obesity. And this is a condition which affects Louisville, which has one of the higher rates in the nation, in the 80th percentile according to data from the CDC. Louisville also has one of the highest incidences of cigarette smoking, and its residents also reports high rates of hypertension, cholesterol, and lack of exercise. These health issues are also a likely contributor to the city’s sleeplessness.
Thanks to Doug Proffitt and his crew for having me on his show.