The Best Cities for Mental Health and Sleep

Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

According to the National Institutes of Health, mental illness is on the rise nationally, affecting approximately one in five Americans. Mental illnesses—including sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety among others—are broadly defined as a range of conditions, varying in severity, that affect an individual’s mental, emotional, or behavioral health.

In recent years, health organizations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have emphasized the importance of mental health as a component of health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Increasingly, experts understand that taking care of both the body and the mind are essential for maintaining good holistic health.

Sleep is one of the most important components of physical and mental health. The CDC has found that insufficient sleep is associated with a variety of health problems, including mental disorders like depression and physical diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Additionally, a lack of sleep can make any existing mental or physical health condition more difficult to manage or treat.

Sleep is a Vital Compnent of Mental & Physical Well-Being

More broadly, the CDC reports that poor mental health is a strong predictor of chronic physical health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as lower rates of physical activity and higher obesity rates. The CDC recommends engaging in regular physical activity to both improve sleep quality and lower the risk of mental and physical health conditions like high blood pressure, cancer, and depression.

Physical and Mental Health Are Closely Related

With so many factors tightly coupled, there’s no single determinant of mental health. Instead, a variety of biological and environmental factors influence an individual’s psychological well-being. Some mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, are predisposed based on genetic variations. Other mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, can have a biological basis or stem from external factors. For example, the World Health Organization recently recognized “burnout,” or extreme workplace stress, as a medical disorder. In addition, the World Health Organization reports a correlation between social inequalities and poor mental health.


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Given the importance of environmental factors to mental health, it makes sense that there are geographic differences in the prevalence of mental illness. To determine which cities foster the best mental health among residents, researchers at Sleep Help analyzed health data from the CDC’s 500 Cities Project. Sleep Help’s researchers ranked cities based on the percentage of adults who self-report good mental health for a majority of days in a given month. For the analysis, only cities with a population over 200,000 were considered.

The cities reporting the best mental health also tended to be healthier overall with a greater share of residents getting sufficient sleep, a greater share of residents engaging in physical activity, and a lower share of residents with obesity. Interestingly, most of the best cities for mental health are located in the West or Midwest, and none are located in the Northeast. Here are the top 15 cities with the best mental health:

The 15 Cities Reporting the Best Mental Health

Chandler, AZ
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15. Chandler, AZ

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.2%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 89.7%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 65.6%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 81.0%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 24.8%
Madison, WI
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14. Madison, WI

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.2%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.3%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 70.7%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 83.8%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 27.6%
Austin, Texas
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13. Austin, TX

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.3%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 89.6%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 70.9%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 78.5%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 26.1%
Washington, DC
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12. Washington, D.C.

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.3%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.3%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 63.3%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 82.0%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 26.4%
Gilbert, AZ
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11. Gilbert, AZ

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.6%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.5%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 66.4%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 83.0%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 23.9%
Lincoln, NE
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10. Lincoln, NE

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.6%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.9%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 71.7%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 79.5%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 29.9%

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Minneapolis, MN
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9. Minneapolis, MN

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 89.7%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.4%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 70.0%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 81.4%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 26.3%
San Jose, CA
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8. San Jose, CA

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 90.0%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.0%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 67.5%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 78.3%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 20.6%
Scottsdale, AZ
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7. Scottsdale, AZ

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 90.0%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.9%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 67.7%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 84.4%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 23.4%
Honolulu, HI
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6. Honolulu, HI

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 90.2%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 90.8%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 52.6%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 78.8%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 23.2%
Seattle, WA
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4. Seattle, WA (tie)

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 90.2%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 91.0%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 70.9%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 86.6%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 23.1%

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San Fransisco, CA
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4. San Francisco, CA (tie)

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 90.2%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 91.0%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 69.7%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 82.1%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 17.2%
Plano, TX
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3. Plano, TX

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 90.5%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 91.3%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 68.1%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 79.6%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 25.6%
Irvine California
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2. Irvine, CA

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 91.4%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 91.8%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 68.9%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 86.1%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 16.7%
Fremont, CA
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1. Fremont, CA

  • Adults reporting good mental health: 91.6%
  • Adults reporting good physical health: 92.3%
  • Adults reporting >7 hours of sleep per night: 66.0%
  • Adults reporting leisure-time physical activity: 84.4%
  • Obesity rate among adults: 15.3%

Methodology & Full Results

The data used in this analysis is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 500 Cities 2018 data release. All data is for the population 18 years and over.

Adults are considered to be in good mental or physical health if they report being in good mental or good physical health for a majority of days in a given month. As such, the resulting statistics might be an overestimation of the population in good health, but they provide the best available, directionally accurate indication across cities.

Leisure-time physical activity includes any physical activities or exercises participated in outside of a regular job. Such activities might include golf, tennis, running, or calisthenics.

Cities were ranked based on the percentage of adults reporting good mental health. In the event of a tie, physical health was considered. For the final list of items, only cities with a population over 200,000 were considered.

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