By now, Puebloans are used to getting bad news from surveys that compare us to other cities in Colorado and the world at-large. Our crime rates are too high. We’ve got too much poverty. Our schools aren’t doing as well as they should. You get the picture.
And according to a study recently released by an organization called Sleepopolis, we’re even bad at getting a good night’s sleep. The New York-based group, which does research on the “sleep industry,” ranked Pueblo last among 116 Colorado cities in terms of sleep habits.
But let’s not spend too much time crying into our pillows over this one. Sleepopolis used a number of different criteria to assign a sleep score for each city. Apparently, a portion of that score was derived by surveying residents about their sleeping habits.
Assuming survey participants gave honest answers, that part of the study’s methodology would seem to have some validity. But other considerations in determining the sleep scores included air pollution, mental health, physical inactivity, smoking, unemployment and other criteria.
Pueblo got a score of 82.13, while the Denver suburb of Cherry Hills Village, Colorado’s top-rated city for sleep, scored 94.66. You have to wonder if Cherry Hills Village will start describing itself as “a sleepy suburb” in its promotional materials.
Here’s the problem with this survey and so many others like it that try to assign values to traits that are hard to measure: Sleepopolis chose some factors its researchers believe have links to good sleep, while disregarding others.
For example, is there really a strong link between poor air quality and sleep? Maybe if you’re sleeping under an interstate overpass, where exhaust fumes could be a problem.
And what about physical inactivity? There’s plenty of research that suggests exercise helps people sleep better. Unless they’re trying to exercise too close to bedtime, in which case that actually might make it tougher to get to sleep.
Unemployment? Sure, if you don’t have a job, that could be enough to keep a person up at night. But so could worrying about your enormous mortgage or rent payments if you live in the Denver or Colorado Springs metro areas. Or worrying about how early you have to get up to commute to your job, once the economy returns to normal. Why weren’t housing costs or commuting times factored into the equation?
Which communities consume the most Sominex and other sleep aids per capita? That seems like a more valid indicator than, say, how many people are smokers.
The point here is that these studies are arbitrary and involve a lot of cherry picking when it comes to which factors to include and which to leave out. That’s also true of studies that cast Pueblo in a more favorable light, by the way.
The bottom line is that we’re living in troubled times, with fears related to the COVID-19 virus heaped on top of all the other worries and hassles of everyday life. So what’s our best advice about our poor ranking in the Sleepopolis study?
Try not to lose any sleep over it.