Is Debt Stress Affecting Your Sleep?

2020-01-17   minute read

Linda Paul

Lifestyle Debt

When all is quiet and your body finally stops at the end of the day, your mind doesn’t always follow suit — especially if you’re struggling with financial stress. Instead, your brain wants to kick into overdrive as soon as your head hits the pillow and you find yourself ruminating about the living expenses you can’t afford, overdraft penalties pushing you further into debt and consolidation loans you failed to qualify for.

And this isn’t merely an inconvenience. Sleepless nights can plague you and cause all sorts of maladies, from stomach issues to headaches, depression, tension, irritability and anxiety. In fact, a 2018 Manulife Bank survey found 2 in 5 Canadians felt their debts negatively impacted their mental health.

This might cause you to miss work or take a leave of absence. Health benefits, if available, may only cover a portion of the lost income. And less income may increase debt and cause the cycle of stress and sleepless nights to continue.  

How can you minimize the affect of debt stress on your sleep?

Person looking at their laptop with their face in their hand

Leave the Finances out of the Bedroom

Sleep experts suggest creating a positive environment for better sleep. That means both mentally and physically. So, try to avoid thoughts and conversations that may ramp up your anxiety or resentment immediately before bedtime.

Instead, schedule a regular time each week, month or pay period to review your finances or discuss them with your partner. These meetings can take place in a home office, your living room or around the kitchen table; but whatever you do, keep this conversation out of the bedroom.

Reduce Screen Time Before Bed

Studies show the blue light emitted from electronic devices (e.g. smartphones, televisions, tablets)  interferes with your ability to fall asleep and get the good quality deep sleep you need to detox your brain, consolidate memories and regulate your emotions.

Now, imagine the blue light you’re exposing yourself to is your chequing account and credit card balances. Physically you’re telling your body it’s not time to sleep; mentally, you’re adding fuel to your financial stress fire.

Shut off all devices an hour before sleeping. Read a book or do some deep relaxation breathing instead. Clearing your mind of financially stressful thoughts will bring on sleep faster. Leave financial transactions for the light of day.

Avoid Financial Decisions in the Middle of the Night

When you can’t sleep, you might be tempted to reach for your phone and look for solutions to your debt problems. Don’t do this! You already know the combination of blue light and feeding your anxious thoughts will only increase your wakefulness and make it harder to fall asleep. But more importantly, you’re in no position to make rational, well-considered decisions in your overtired and emotionally frustrated state.

Also, consider how algorithms cause targeted advertisements to appear on websites, search engines and regularly used social media apps. If you’ve recently been searching for debt solutions, some offer will pop up — but there’s no guarantee it’s the right one (or a reputable offer at all).

Wait until the morning when you have the space and clarity to consider potential debt solutions. Take time to weigh your options and phone an actual person rather than applying for something online that could worsen your financial situation.

De-stress with Exercise

Regular exercise reduces stress, improves mood and increases energy throughout the day — and contributes to better quality sleep. Even small doses are exponentially better than none at all.

When you’re facing a stressful situation, financial or otherwise, simply taking a walk can free your thinking and inspire solutions you might not have come up with had you stayed behind a desk or in front of the TV. Walking with your partner or friend can reduce stress even more — especially if you are both relaxed and use the time to calmly and rationally discuss whatever financial challenge you’re facing.

As a bonus, you can look forward to a good night’s sleep now that your body has released some tension and taken in some fresh air and sunlight.

Life-Changing Debt Solutions

A good night’s rest is critical for your mental, physical, emotional — and financial ­— wellbeing. And some of the suggestions above might be enough to take the edge off. But if you’re struggling to make ends meet, it might be time to reach out to a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to truly put your mind at ease.

During a Free Confidential Consultation, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee will review your financial situation and enquire about your challenges and goals. They will thoroughly explain all the options available to you — perhaps including a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy — and equip you with the information you need to find the right path forward and achieve the financial fresh start you need and deserve.

The life of your dreams doesn’t have to be something you only experience when you finally fall asleep.

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