According to the Federal Reserve, Americans under the age of 35 are currently living with an average of $67,400 in debt. Those between the ages of 35-44 are living with around $133,100 in debt, and this number only continues to increase year after year. With all of this debt weighing on America’s minds, we have to wonder how this financial stress could be affecting our sleep. A recent study surveyed 1,000 American adults about their sleep quality and current debt. The results show that financial stress may be causing a significant lack of sleep and a reduction of sleep quality.
According to the survey, Americans with more than $60,000 in debt were more likely to report getting an average of 5 hours of sleep each night than those with less debt. Those with between $31,000 and $60,000 in debt reported needing more sleep in order rate their rest at least 4 out of 5 on the survey’s sleep scale.
So what type of financial worries are keeping Americans up at night?
The survey suggests that American’s financial worries are centered around specific concerns.
- Student Loans. 38 percent of Americans in the survey cited student loans as their largest source of debt. In fact, 44 million Americans owed $1.3 trillion in student loans in early 2017. This is an average of $37,000 per student.
- Credit Cards. Around 23 percent of Americans ranked credit card debt as their primary source of financial stress. This is not surprising when we consider that credit card debt topped the $1 trillion mark in late 2016.
- Medical and Car Payments. Americans who reported medical expenses and car payments as their highest source of financial stress were more likely to rank their sleep as less than 3 out of 5 on the sleep scale.
- Late Payments. 85 percent of Americans behind on monthly bills were more likely to express a sense of worry than those who were making their payments on time.
All of this stress and anxiety can have dangerous effects. Untreated stress can lead to poor work performance, mood swings, depression, and relationship issues. Since Americans with higher levels of anxiety are more likely to report feeling less rested, this can then lead to sleep deprivation issues such as poor cognitive abilities and trouble focusing.
If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping due to financial stress, consider some of the tips below to help reduce your anxiety and ease your mind.
- Take Inventory. At times, many of us may avoid facing the truth of our finances. However, this only causes us to worry about what might be. Taking inventory of your current situation will help you identify areas that might need adjusting.
- Create a Budget. Spending within a set budget can ensure that you always live within your means. This will reduce the compulsion to worry about money. The budget should include all spending, such as financial obligations, groceries, transportation, living essentials, etc. To increase the likelihood of sticking to your new budget, be sure it is practical and realistic.
- Create an Emergency Savings Account. Once you have taken inventory of your income and balanced it against your financial obligations and spending habits, you may free up money that could be put towards an emergency savings account. Having this account will help you rest easier at night knowing that unexpected expenses will be covered.
- Automatic Payments. Because delinquent payments are a big source of stress for many Americans, automating your monthly bills can help to alleviate this stress. Automatic payments will save you time and ensure that your bills are current.
- Set Goals. Take stock of financial concerns that are specific areas of stress for you. Once you identify those areas, you can set goals to address them. For example, if retirement is a particular source of stress for you, set a goal to create a retirement plan or a 401(k).
- Sleep Hygiene. The CDC suggests that establishing healthy sleep habits can also help improve our sleep quality. Consider creating a set sleep schedule, keeping your room cool and dark, reducing exposure to electronic screens at least 2 hours before bed, getting regular exercise, and avoiding large meals before bed.
To help break the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, consider incorporating some of these practical tips into your finances. You will rest much easier at night knowing you are fully aware of your financial situation and that you are taking steps to improve it and reach your goals.