Many Americans Losing Sleep Over Money
If you lie awake at night worrying about money, you're not alone. According to a new report by CreditCards.com, 62% of Americans are losing sleep over at least one financial problem, the most common being retirement savings.
"We're actually sleeping better than we did during the Great Recession … but we're not resting quite as peacefully as we did before that," said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. In 2007, before the recession, 56% of Americans reported losing sleep because of money.
And even during the day, most Americans worry about money more than anything else. In fact, for many today money worries equal that of losing a loved one, according to a report by E*TRADE. And among financial worries, the most concerning was not saving enough for retirement. The E*TRADE data showed Americans spend 30% of their time worrying about retirement funds -- even more than personal relationship issues (20%) or loss of a job (18%).
According to financial experts, here are ways to stop worrying about money:
Establish a Good Pre-Sleep Routine
According to Dr. Gerard Lombardo, chief medical officer of United Sleep Diagnostics in Brooklyn, New York, it's important to have a good stress-reducing routine that can eventually become a habit. Before entering your bedroom at the end of the day, try writing down things that are stressful, along with some solutions. He says that in doing so, "you purge yourself of the stress that you would have taken into the bedroom."
Dr. Maggie Baker, a financial therapist and author of Crazy About Money: How Emotions Confuse Our Money Choices and What To Do About It, says your bed should only be used for sleeping. For example, by reading or writing things down in another room, or in a chair, "you can use your bed to better cue your body for sleep," she said.
Dr. Lombardo also suggests engaging in something relaxing like yoga, praying, sipping decaffeinated tea or relaxation breathing.
"Anything that helps get the central nervous system ready for sleep," he said.
In addition to yoga or stretching, Dr. Baker suggests taking a walk to calm your body down. She also said to avoid looking at computer screens before going to bed, because the light that emanates from our devices actually causes us to wake up, rather than become sleepy.
Focus on the Positive
One of psychologist Martin Seligman's strategies that may improve sleep is to write down three good things that happened to you during the day, according to Sarah Asebedo, assistant professor of financial planning at Virginia Tech and wealth advisor at Perennial Wealth Group in Blacksburg, Virginia.
"This purposefully redirects your thoughts towards positive things," she said. The shift from pessimism to optimism at the end of the day can improve sleep and benefit overall health and happiness, she added.
Improve Your Daytime Action Plan
"People tend to lose sleep when they think they don't have control," said Schulz. "It's important to remember that the best way to gain control is to take some action." Taking action during the day eliminates having to worry about it at night.
For example, if you're worried you'll never have enough money for retirement, make an appointment to meet with a financial planner. This way you've done something about it and you don't have to worry about it at night, said Asebedo.
Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*TRADE, says an automatic investment plan can take the daily worry out of saving money, because these plans periodically transfer a set amount from your bank account into a savings and investment account, like an IRA.
"It's all about getting started," he said. Once they're established, you don't have to think about it. "The sooner you start, the greater the impact," he added.
If you're worried about credit card debt, Schulz suggested calling the credit card issuer and asking for a reduction in your annual percentage rate (APR). In fact, he said recent data suggest that 75% of people requesting a lower APR, actually get it.
"A reduction of just a percentage point or two can save hundreds of dollars," he said.