The cost-of-living crisis means that money worries are increasingly widespread. For most people, this is causing sleep disruption, with nearly nine in 10 (88%) Brits saying that thoughts about money impact their sleep somehow.
The study by Virgin Money found that sleepless nights are a frequent occurrence for some. More than one in 10 (12%) say that money worries keep them awake every night, with another 14% experiencing sleep disruption weekly.
The research also shows that people are equally likely to worry about their current financial situation (16%) as they are their future finances (16%), highlighting that this isn’t a short-term problem.
Regarding worrying about money, the survey shows that women (91%) are more likely to experience sleep disruption than men (85%). Financial anxiety was also found to be most likely to impact the sleep of 25-34-year-olds (90%), while the over 55’s are the least likely to experience sleep disruption (86%).
The research also finds that people struggle with money worries regardless of income. Brits earning £25,000-£50,000 are slightly more likely (88%) to be kept awake by financial anxiety than those earning £10,000-£25,000 (87%), but high earners still struggle with money concerns, with eight in 10 of those earning £75,000-£100,000 saying that money worries sometimes impact their sleep.
To help prevent sleepless nights due to money worries, Katy Simpson, personal finance expert at Virgin Money, has partnered with Dr Hana Patel, a sleep expert at Time4Sleep, to share six tips for getting a good night’s sleep in the face of stress.
Don’t shy away from your finances
Katy says: “When we’re confronted with something causing us stress, it’s a common reaction for people to bury their worries and avoid interacting with their source of anxiety, in this case, their money. But ignoring your finances could create more problems.”
“Avoiding checking your online bank account regularly, for example, might mean that you don’t spot fraudulent activity. Or that you’re unaware of a bounced payment, meaning that you miss an instalment that could incur a charge from the supplier and negatively impact your credit score or that you’re in overdraft. Keeping on top of your online banking means that you’ll be aware of any potential issues and be able to plan ahead.”
Schedule daily worry time
Dr Patel comments: “Scheduling dedicated ‘worry time’ will allow your mind to process anxious thoughts, including money worries. Reflect on these thoughts by writing them down, as seeing them in front of you can allow you to address your concerns, recognise how unrealistic some of these scenarios are and reduce any feelings of anxiety.”
“Writing your worries down can also help you to focus on developing a solution and see clearly what actions you need to take to manage your finances better and ease your concerns, which can help you to feel more relaxed as the evening approaches.”
“Take 10 minutes daily for ‘worry time’; you can even block this in your calendar so it becomes a daily practice. With repetition of ‘worry time’, you should begin to notice that you have a somewhat quieter mind, which is particularly important as you approach bedtime.”
Get the hang of budgeting
Katy explains: “Taking some time at the start of every month to create a budget will help you to spend and save effectively and allow you to spot and address any money issues in advance.”
“You may find that the coming month has several important birthdays or a large annual payment is due. Budgeting means that you’ll have factored these expenses into your spending at the beginning of the month, allowing you to plan accordingly around your financial commitments.”
Get used to talking about your money
Katy says: “Many people don’t feel able to talk openly about money with friends and family. As a result, some can feel forced into social activities or purchases that they can’t afford, and this can cause financial anxiety.
“By practising talking about your money with those close to you, you can get into the habit of saying ‘no’ to unnecessary expenses. It’s not bad to tell a friend you can’t afford to go out this weekend or to explain to a family member that things are tight around their birthday, but you’ll treat them after you’ve been paid.”
Routine, routine, routine
Dr Patel comments: “The repetition of a bedtime routine can work wonders for reducing pre-sleep anxiety. Instead of letting your mind wander, you can focus on what’s next as part of your routine, whether reading, running a bath or going to sleep.
“This routine will also help to trigger feelings of tiredness while allowing you to wind down properly, and this works particularly well when the routine is repeated. Aim to keep a regular bedtime, too, as this will help to solidify the routine.”