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How are you sleeping these days? If you’re like 6 in 10 Americans the answer is, "not so well." And it may be your money that's snatching your zzz's. According to a new survey from CreditCards.com 62% of us have at least one financial snafu keeping us up nights.
The most common reasons: saving for retirement, paying for college and health or insurance bills.
NY-based clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Janet Kennedy is not surprised. “The [most common] things people ruminate about in the night are work, finances and relationships,” she says. “I’ve definitely had patients who stay up at night doing the math, or they wake up in the middle of night and they start thinking about how the bills are piling up.”
If this sounds familiar, one solution, of course, is to get to work actually solving the underlying problem. But part of managing this situation is knowing when the stress is telling you to do something constructive and when you actually just need to focus on ways to calm yourself – and your body – down. “Those are two very different things,” says Amanda Clayman a financial therapist based in Brooklyn, NY. That’s particularly important because – as Clayman notes – sometimes these financial issues are complex and there isn’t an overnight (or even a quick) solution. While you’re working through the problem, it will help to be able to sleep. How?
Make time to ponder during the day. “A lot of what comes to us at night are things we push out of our awareness during the day,” says Kennedy. “It’s what we don’t allow time for.” Setting aside time to proactively think about it and make a plan to deal with it is key in solving the issue of sleeplessness.
Keep a notepad by the bed. If financial thoughts still push their way through – and unfortunately, that might happen – get out of bed and write them down. That way, they don’t have to keep bouncing around. “One common issue with these nighttime racing thoughts is that people feel that they’re going to forget something important by morning,” Kennedy says. “They keep themselves away by trying to remember it. By jotting it down you can relax knowing you don’t have to bother with it until daytime.”
Develop some basic good habits. People who are under financial stress need to establish an environment that feels safer, financially, Clayman notes. Some good basic habits can help you do that. She has her clients open all the mail everyday, keep running lists of upcoming income and expenses, track their out of pocket spending and organize (and pay) bills in order of urgency. If there are any bills you can’t pay, call your creditors and try to work out an arrangement to pay as you can in the future.
Take care of yourself. Financial hygiene is a lot like sleep hygiene, Clayman notes. “Good sleep hygiene involves keeping a calm and neutral sleeping environment,” she says. “The same goes for your finances.”