Alaska Sleep Education Center

The Relationship Between Financial Stress and Sleep

Posted by Beau Peters on Mar 18, 2021 12:42:00 AM

Finances got you stressed and sleep deprived

It’s hard to sleep when you’re stressed out. A busy brain can keep you awake. Anxious emotions can force you to lay in bed for hours, unable to shut your eyes. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make the connection between stress and sleep. However, if you take things one step further, an interesting little factoid arises. One of the most common sleep disruptors isn’t just anxiety in general. It comes from financial stress.

Here is the breakdown of how financial stress and sleep are negatively related — and what you can do to overcome the issue.

The (Undesirable) Link Between Bad Finances and Poor Sleep

The connection between finances and sleep is two-fold. The first part of the equation has to do with the stress itself. Financial stress isn’t an anomaly. It’s a widespread concern for the majority of Americans these days.

How much so? Within the last few years, money stress has ranked second as the most common source of stress for the average individual. On top of that, the modern fiscal pressure on younger generations has made money matters the number one source of stress for both Gen Z and Millennials — and that was before a pandemic added fuel to the fire by crippling the global economy.

The second piece to the puzzle is the connection between stress and sleep. Stress is a natural part of our existence. The “fight-or-flight” reflex activates in select situations, releasing adrenaline and cortisol into our systems in preparation to take sudden action.

As a rule, stress is important and useful in specific moments. If it becomes a constant state of chemical arousal, though — i.e. if you suffer from chronic stress — it can lead to sleep deprivation. This comes from a naturally heightened state of alertness and a mind filled with anxious thoughts.

To top things off, if you’re sleep-deprived, the issue can come full circle. It’s been shown that lack of sleep can directly and negatively impact your financial decision-making skills. In other words, if your financial stress disrupts your sleep, the lack of sleep can ultimately cause you to make more bad financial decisions. This exacerbates the problem in a vicious, life-destroying Catch-22.

Ways to Address Financially Driven Sleep Issues

Needless to say, if you’re suffering from this unpleasant link between sleep and financial stress, it’s important to do something about it. Here are a few steps that you can take to first deal with the root of the issue and then restore a sense of peace and health to your slumber.

Start with the Issue

Before you go out and plunk a couple of grand on a fancy mattress or even a hundred dollars on a luxury pillow or some other newfangled (and expensive!) sleep solution, it’s important to start by addressing the root of the issue. In fact, if you’re tempted to spend serious money on a solution, that’s your first hint at tracing things back to a bigger financially-based problem.


What is it that is creating your financial stress?

It’s a loaded and likely unpleasant question to ask, but it must be done. If you don’t remove the source of your chronic stress first, it will find a way to undermine even the most elaborate sleep-promoting activity. So, start the process of restoring your sleep by identifying your financial stressors. A few suggestions for possible culprits include:


  • Bad financial habits: Do you simply spend too much? For instance, credit card debt is the number one financial issue that most Americans struggle with. Do you find that swiping that plastic or pulling up that saved credit card info on Amazon is far too easy? If so, you may need to start tracking your spending habits.


  • Loss of a job: Has your income dried up due to an unexpected termination of work? Even the most frugal spending habits won’t keep you afloat if you have no source of income. If this is the case, you must sit down and come up with an action plan. Should you apply for a job within the same profession? Should you make a professional pivot? Should you go back to school?


  • Unexpected expenses: Unforeseen expenses happen. Did you total your car? Was a surgery not covered by insurance? You may feel like a victim in this kind of situation, but at a certain point, you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and look for the best solution. Gauge your ability to get a new car loan at the best interest rate. Look into medical bill forgiveness. Whatever your situation, do your homework and consider your options.


  • Chronic worry: Sometimes the fear of potential issues can be enough to keep you up at night. If you find that you’re a chronic money worrier, you may need to start working on focusing on the present and practicing mindfulness, gratitude, and keeping perspective.


These are just a handful of common issues. Regardless of your particular situation, you should take the time to identify both the root of your financial worry and your options to address it.

Creating a sense of understanding and doing your best to address the issue is the first step in restoring your situation. For instance, if you’re dealing with massive debt, don’t just resort to bankruptcy. Start by using a budget calculator to get a clearer picture of your income and expenses.

Then consider things like debt negotiation or loan relief to help preserve your credit and financial health rather than simply kicking the financial worry can further down the road with a quick out. The point is, don’t skip your financial stress in an attempt to band-aid over the stress with shallow sleep solutions. Start with the root of the issue and work from there.

Address Your Sleep Habits

Once you’ve gotten your financial situation well in hand, it’s time to undo some of your unhealthy sleep habits.

There are many ways that you can do this. Create routines that avoid stressful events before bedtime. Get out of bed if you find yourself lying awake for too long. Schedule addressing your worries for other times of the day.

From there, start to implement basic sleep-promoting activities. Journal at night. Pray before bed. Breathe deeply and utilize a relaxation guide. Use essential oils and herbal teas. Turn on some ASMR. There are plenty of ways to encourage your mind to turn off and your body to wind down at the end of the day.

Conquering Sleep Issues Caused By Finances

Financial challenges happen. They’re part of life. However, there is no good reason for the state of your finances to dictate the quality of your sleep. On the contrary, if you’re in a financial pinch, there is all the reason in the world to fight for good sleep so that you can focus on the challenges that you’re facing.

So identify that financial stress, make a game plan, and start restoring your sleep as soon as possible. Today, even. Your mind, body, and bank account will thank you.

What is Your Next Step?

If you cannot seem to stop the stress that triggers your anxiety and sleepless nights, call Alaska Sleep Clinic today.  We are the only sleep lab in the state with a Cognitive Behavior Therapist specializing in sleep medicine, Dr. Angie Randazzo. Watch Dr. Angie's KTUU "Moms Everyday" Segment on how stress affects sleep by clicking the video below.


We are ready to help you Improve Your Sleep and Improve Your Life.

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Topics: stress, managing stress, finances

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