Financial Fears and Sleep: is money anxiety keeping you up?

Money can’t buy happiness, but worrying about it could lead to sleep deprivation

Money troubles are far more common than we would like them to be, especially in 2020 when job insecurity and uncertainty have never been higher. In fact, worrying about finances is causing more than 7 million adults to lose sleep in the UK, according to a study published in The Independent. Meanwhile, a survey in The Telegraph found that one in three students experience insomnia due to money worries.

Financial fears can come about for a wide variety of reasons, and can manifest themselves in many ways. So if you find yourself lying awake at night because of your bank balance, know that you aren’t alone.

We’re going to take a closer look at the impact anxiety – particularly money anxiety – can have on your sleep quality, as well as exploring the ways you can improve your sleep in the long run. Let’s take a look.

What is money anxiety?

There is no single reason why money anxiety occurs. It could be a case of having suffered sudden job loss, redundancy, or simply a change in circumstances. It could be the result of having taken a pay cut, overspending or even addiction. It can often feel like you have no way out of your financial difficulties, and when this level of stress occurs it becomes extremely difficult to switch them off at night and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

Why do we worry more at night?

It’s not a coincidence that we tend to worry more at night. When lying in bed, we’re free of distractions, allowing our brains (and our anxiety) to run wild. On a normal night, this is a chance for your mind to unwind, but money worries can make this impossible. Everything can feel worse when you’re lying in the dark.

Anxiety even has the power to wake us up at night. Whether by waking up from a nightmare or simply via intrusive thoughts, anxiety can disrupt our sleep in more ways than one.

Money worries act as a trigger which can then create a vicious cycle of sleeplessness. Worrying about money makes us anticipate not being able to sleep, which in turn can make it even harder to get to sleep.

What impact does sleep deprivation have?

More than 6.2 million households in the UK are financially unstable, which shows just how many of us are probably living with money anxiety. Sleep deprivation can have a severe impact on both your physical and mental health. As well as tiredness and fatigue, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.

Your body produces two hormones responsible for regulating appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin lets your brain know when you should stop eating, while ghrelin lets it know when you’re hungry. When you’re sleep deprived, you produce less leptin which creates a hormone imbalance that can often result in excess snacking.

Sleep deprivation can also make it harder to concentrate on tasks, as well as retain information. Research also reveals that people who don’t get enough sleep are far more susceptible to depression. If you’re missing out on sleep due to stress, you are at high risk of experiencing periods of low mood.

What should you do when struggling to sleep?

There’s a lot to be said for a positive, proactive outlook. No matter how troubling your situation may appear to be in the moment, it’s rarely all doom and gloom. And the truth is that getting yourself in a more positive mindset will help you gain more restful sleep . . . which will then, in turn, help you to feel more energised and cheerful. Remember: a positive cycle is every bit as achievable as a vicious cycle.

Facing up to your financial situation and taking constructive steps to rectify it is essential when it comes to reducing your money anxiety. And in the meantime you can begin getting yourself in the right frame of mind by taking control of your sleep quality as you try to resolve the wider situation.

First of all, try to get into a routine that involves going to bed and waking up at similar times every day. Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. In the long term, having a routine in place will help to teach your brain when it’s time to shut down and when it’s time to wake up.

If you associate going to bed with feeling stressed, try engaging in a distracting activity to help you unwind, such as reading or meditating. You could even set a timer on an audiobook or a sleep-friendly podcast while you try to drift off.

Whatever you do, don’t watch the clock. This only adds to your stress and heighten your sleeplessness. Instead, find ways to relax your mind. Some people find it helpful to write down a list of what is worrying them – transferring their concerns from their mind to the paper. In the end, it’s all about finding a sleep routine that works for you.

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