Sleeping Your Way to Financial Health

Sleep and finances are very rarely in the same conversation. We just don't think of sleep playing a role in our finances and vice versa. But, the reality is that our sleep and our finances are actually very intertwined! And I think it's time we start talking about these things together.

Your financial health has a big impact on your sleep.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, money is the top stressor for most Americans - consistently ranking above work, family responsibilities and even health concerns. The study found that "one in four adults feel stressed about money all of the time, with over half having 'just enough' money to make ends meet each month." This financial stress has a detrimental impact on our sleep as stress is one of the leading causes of insomnia. Not only do people who have poor financial health get less sleep than their less-stressed peers, but they are also more likely to suffer from disrupted sleep, short sleep, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea. But, it's not just your financial health that affects your sleep. The reverse is also true.

Your sleep has a big impact on your finances.

There was a sleep study conducted by the American Neurological Association in which they observed sleep patterns and financial risk-taking behavior in a group of people, ages 18-28. One group of participants studied slept only 5 hours per night for one week, while the other group slept for 8 hours per night. Twice daily, both groups were given a decision-making task. Each task had two possible outcomes: (1) "receiving a set amount of money for certain," or (2) "gambling for a higher amount and getting nothing if they lost." At the beginning of the week, the lack of sleep didn't affect the participants' decisions. However, as the sleep-deprived nights continued, more of the participants took bigger risks. Get the end of that sleep-deprived week, almost ALL of the participants were choosing the second, more risky outcome.

Not only did the researchers study the participants' decisions, but they also analyzed how the participants perceived their decisions. They wanted to know if the participants felt that their decisions were more risky than typical for that individual, given a few additional hours of sleep. Here's the really scary part...participants didn't see any difference in their decision making, as their awareness of risks was depleted along with their sleep! Christian Baumann, study co-author and professor of neurology explained, "We, therefore, do not notice that we are acting riskier when suffering from a lack of sleep." Risky behaviors and a solid financial plan (with little financial stress) do not go together! Lack of sleep leads to impulsive, risky behaviors that can have a detrimental effect on our finances.

Ok. So now you know that sleep and finances are intertwined, but what can YOU do to positively impact your sleep and your financial health? When it comes to taking control of your finances and drastically reducing financial stress, here are our top recommendations: (1) Get a zero-based budget in place that works for you and stick to it! If you're not sure where to get started, visit our website and download our free budget worksheet. (2) Get your debt paid off ASAP! Debt forces you to live life in the rearview mirror because you're chained to stuff from the past. Get that debt paid off and start cash flowing your goals and dreams! (3) Regularly practice gratitude. Gratitude breeds contentment and contentment is crucial to eliminating financial stress.

When it comes to sleeping better and improving your overall health (and decision making), here are four top recommendations from Certified Sleep Consultant, Annie Schlecht, with Zen Sleep Consulting: (1) Aim for 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night to ensure that you get in at least five sleep cycles.

(2) Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Your room should be dark ('can't see the back of your hand' dark), cool (65-69 degrees Fahrenheit), and quiet (or a consistent form of white noise).

(3) Avoid screens and dim the lights in your home one to two hours before bed, so your melatonin can flow naturally. If that's not an option, be sure to use blue light blocking glasses.

(4) Practice meditation before bed.

Whether you feel stressed every month wondering if you're going to make it to your next paycheck or you're sick and tired of watching the clock turn to 3 A.M. yet again, I want to encourage you to never neglect all of the factors that affect your wellness. While we don't often talk about sleep and finances in the same conversation, these two factors are absolutely intertwined and we need to consider how they affect each other! If you're ready to reduce financial stress, make sound financial decisions, and sleep better, then put our practical tips in place today.

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