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How Debt Affects your Sleep

Financial Stress Can Make It Hard to Sleep at Night

If you are dealing with financial stress or worrying about money or debt, you might find that this stress takes over every aspect of your life. When you’re concerned about paying bills, anxious about answering the phone due to calls from collection agencies, or terrified that you may lose your job, it’s tough to focus on anything else.

Unfortunately, financial stress often creeps into your evenings, making it difficult to sleep. If you’ve ever laid awake at night, worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills or balance your budget, you know this feeling.

Sleep is important. During sleep, your body works to maintain physical health and support healthy brain function. An ongoing sleep deficiency can affect how you think, learn, work, and much more. Those who regularly do not get enough sleep are at an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and more. It’s also more difficult for your body to fight off common infections if you’re sleep deficient.

In the short term, not sleeping well at night (or not sleeping at all) leaves you tired and sluggish the next day. This means you likely won’t perform as well at work, you’ll be irritable and cranky (which can harm your personal relationships) and you likely won’t eat as much nutritious food as you should, instead choosing “quick fix” solutions like fast food, chocolate, and candy. A lack of sleep also slows down your reaction time, which could be very dangerous when you’re driving a car, for example.

Of course, you might completely understand why sleep is important and still be unable to sleep properly due to financial stress. If you are in this position, here are a few things that you can do.

  • Avoid the computer and television just before bed.
    • You might think that spending some time online or watching TV will help you relax, but screen time just before bed has actually been linked to sleeping problems. For this reason, try not to watch a movie on your laptop or scroll through your smart phone in bed. The light and the feed of information you get from phones, computers, and televisions disrupts your body’s natural ability to fall sleep.
  • Develop a habit of thinking about – and writing down – your financial concerns in the early evening.
    • A lot of situations seem worse in the middle of the night when you’re alone in the home and it’s dark. These feelings can quickly spiral out of control when you’re in bed, trying to sleep. By writing down your concerns when you’re completely awake, and taking some time to plan and strategize possible solutions, you could put your mind at ease and make it easier for you to fall asleep when the time comes.
  • Have a consistent routine.
    • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This will get your body used to sleeping during certain hours.
  • Talk and learn.
    • During the daytime, talk to your spouse, your friends, or anyone else you trust about your financial issues. Discussing your concerns with someone can help you put your situation in perspective and make it easier for you to come up with a plan for working through your financial difficulties. Plus, strengthening a personal connection with a loved one will be good for you emotionally. Many people who have strong emotional support in life also report having lower stress levels.
    • It can also be a good idea to learn about strategies for budgeting, repaying debt, building an emergency fund, etc. If you take the time to learn about these topics during daytime hours, you can work to put together a plan. Then you won’t have as much to worry about when you’re trying to fall asleep.
    • Having a plan and following a budget give you more control over your situation. One reason that debt and finances are often so stressful is because they feel overwhelming and this loss of control leads to stress, which makes it tough to sleep. Take control by creating and following a plan.

If you routinely have trouble sleeping, you may wish to speak with your doctor. As mentioned, a prolonged lack of sleep can have serious health consequences. If your financial issues are causing you incredible stress, you may wish to speak with a licensed financial professional for assistance.