- Findings from the State of America’s Sleep study show the best sleepers in America are those who are financially comfortable.
- Of people who rated themselves as poor sleepers, close to two-thirds are concerned about their financial future. More than half live paycheck to paycheck.
- Setting a consistent bedtime, getting 8 hours of sleep, and limiting screen time can all help with quality of sleep.
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to give your body and mind what it needs to tackle the day.
In fact, according to a study by the Better Sleep Council (BSC), getting good shut-eye may even affect your financial health.
Data from the State of America’s Sleep study found that the best sleepers in America are those who plan ahead and are financially comfortable. It reports that good sleepers are nearly two times more likely to regularly save for retirement, unforeseen medical expenses, or both.
“It does not surprise me that there is a positive relationship between good financial practices and sound sleep. I like to say that managing our money is an important self-care activity. Learning to manage our cash flow and investments and understanding the relationship between the two is important,” Ed Coambs, a financial therapist in Matthews, North Carolina, told Healthline.
On the flip side, the study revealed that financially stressed people fall into the worst sleepers in America category. Of those self-rated poor sleepers, close to two-thirds are concerned about their financial future. More than half live paycheck to paycheck.
“Sleep and stress enjoy a very bidirectional relationship. Obviously, it’s hard to fall asleep and stay asleep when you’re stressed, but sufficient sleep provides us with resilience, and we can tolerate higher stress levels much better when we’re well rested,” Terry Cralle, registered nurse and sleep expert at BSC, told Healthline.
“We can approach financial issues better and step back and look at things in our life that may not be optimal and how to make them better, but we have to have sufficient sleep to do that,” she said.
Once you put sleep at the top of your to-do list, Cralle says the following tips can help keep quality sleep a priority.
1. Set a consistent bedtime
Cralle says our bodies crave consistency.
“We always say children do better with schedules, and so do adults. When we have that consistency, we are more likely to get sufficient sleep. Your body knows what to expect, and you fall into a better rhythm,” she said.
This means foregoing sleeping in on weekends.
“We don’t want to undersleep during the week and rely on sleeping more on the weekends because we don’t know that the damage can be undone from undersleeping during the week,” Cralle said.
BSC tip: Avoid staying up late paying bills. Pay them in the morning when you’re more focused.
2. Get 8 hours of quality sleep
Although you might feel like you’re too busy to fit in 8 hours of sleep, Cralle advises rethinking your view.
“When we get sufficient sleep, we do more and do it better. So, you can say you have so much to do that you need to cut back on sleep, but that’s the wrong way to think about it,” Cralle said.
This is true in the context of finances, too, she adds.
“Sleep deprivation has a lot of psychological effects on us. When sleep-deprived, we don’t have good judgement, take risks, and have poor decision making, which can impact your finances. Think about how casinos don’t have clocks, because the more tired we get, the more risks we take,” Cralle said.
“The phrase ‘sleep on it’ is old advice but good advice.”
BSC tip: Consider setting up automatic payments to save time on paying bills.
3. Limit screen time
Cralle says you should stop using screens at least an hour before you go to bed because the blue light from screens disrupts sleep. Additionally, noise and lights from shows are meant to be stimulating.
Cutting back can be done gradually.
“I understand there’s a transition time and we need relaxation time before sleep. I suggest swapping something for screen time. Do you like coloring or knitting or reading or puzzles? Save something you enjoy for bedtime and reward yourself with it,” she said.
BSC tip: Avoid online banking before bedtime to eliminate screen time.
4. Drop money talk
Talking about finances at night is setting yourself up for failure, Cralle says.
“Any conversations at night about stress-related issues, such as finances, won’t get you anywhere. When we are sleep-deprived, we are acting like someone who is intoxicated. We’re not thinking straight, and we have to approach these topics in a rational, logical, reasonable manner, and that’s with sufficient sleep under our belts,” Cralle said.
BSC tip: Save talks about paying bills, debt, and saving for your child’s college fund for the morning.
5. Create a comfortable sleep space
Taking measures to keep out light and noise and maintain an ideal sleeping temperature can help ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Cralle says investing in a comfortable sleep surface is the best measure you can take.
“I like to say the mattress is the most important furniture in the house,” Cralle said.
BSC tip: Visit BetterSleep.org for tips on how to create the ideal bedroom for sleep.
6. Look beyond sleep and at your experience with money
While Coambs agrees that getting adequate sleep can have a positive effect on your financial situation, he says other behavior changes are needed.
He notes the best way to improve your financial situation is to understand what underlying issues stop you from making change.
“When I work with clients around financial anxiety, I am inquiring about their personal experiences with money, especially ones from their childhood. Early childhood experiences with money often set important and foundational ideas about money. Our self-concept is developing right alongside our understanding of money,” he said.
When people take time to reflect on their experiences with money from childhood, Coambs says they can start to identify forgotten money messages that turned into rules about how to manage money.
He uses the example of a grandpa giving his grandchild a $100 bill for their birthday while sternly telling the child, “Don’t blow it all in one place.”
“The child hears the fear, intimidation, and implied shame of blowing it, and it starts a foundation of financial anxiety of blowing it with money. Likely there are more than one of these experiences, but it is [these] subtle but important experiences that build our financial templates,” Coambs said.
Changing financial patterns involves more than making a budget or setting savings goals.
“It is to increase our money awareness and the way that we experience money. Without changing our relationship to money, it is going to be very hard to make and maintain these other health-promoting behaviors of budgeting, saving, and investing,” Coambs said.
At a deeper level, he says if you have underlying issues with your self-concept, which can be negatively affected by inadequate caregiving during childhood, then it’s necessary to work on understanding and healing your sense of self.
“We have to let go of simple understandings of money to get to the more complex and dynamic elements of our financial lives,” Coambs said. “Working with our financial lives is a slow and sometimes disorienting process that in time improves our quality of life.”
Cathy Cassata is a freelance writer who specializes in stories about health, mental health, and human behavior. She has a knack for writing with emotion and connecting with readers in an insightful and engaging way. Read more of her work here.