According to a 2019 study from US-based Better Sleep Council, the primary factors that impact the quality of sleep are:
- Physical pain
- Personal finances
- Social isolation/loneliness
Separately, according to a 2008 study published by AOL, financial stress has a major health impact including increased incidents of migraines, ulcers and depression. This can also lead to poorer work performance and workplace absenteeism.
Financial stress can happen for many reasons, including loss of income, a health issue or relationship breakdown. But when it comes to sleep, because it plays such an important role in our overall wellbeing, taking steps to try improving it are very important.
Get your financial bearings
Losing income or being worried about money impact sleep negatively. Therefore, in order to regain some amount of control, establishing one’s financial bearings is a critical first step. At a minimum, this will inform those impacted to know where they stand, how they will be able to pay for essential goods and services and if it comes to it, negotiate with their lenders for payment breaks or other solutions. It will also act as an information funnel, where they are forced to examine their overall income and spending and look for ways to reduce other costs and perhaps examine if they may be owed back some tax. In Ireland, hundreds of millions of Euro are estimated to go unclaimed for medical and other expenses each year.
Activity – begin to gather all of the necessary documentation and information to put a completed family budget in place (income and expenses).
Develop a routine
With a rise in the number of people working from home, holding onto a routine can be difficult. This is especially the case for people that no longer have a fixed daily routine of commuting to and from work.
Being homebound can tempt us into a false sense of familiarity; we treat it as a weekend. During the initial weeks of being housebound, it is essential to keep that alarm clock set. To begin a successful routine, you need to create a daily activity and stick to it. This includes wake time, exercise time and also, as you do work from home; break times. Be sure to exercise too! If you prefer to avoid crowded footpaths and parks, go out extra early or extra late but be sure to get out as this will play an important role in your sleep.
Limit news…and news sources
The onset of Covid-19 generated extraordinary demand for news and regular updates. Some news sources turned out to be less reliable than others, including some being circulated through the medium of social media. In the case of Covid-19, the best source of accurate information was the HSE (www.hse.ie) for those living in Ireland or the NHS (www.nhsuk) for those living in the UK. Similar approaches should be used for accessing critical consumer information. One such source is Citizens Information for those living in Ireland or Citizens Advice for those living in the UK. While both resources may not have an answer to every question, they can often direct to resources that do.
Limit your electronics
Where anxiety levels have increased, electronic devices may not be helping reduce them. This is because their ever-on alerts, pop-ups, and push notifications are designed to keep us wired. In normal times, alerts can be beneficial to ensure we stay informed and stick to schedules but do you really need the constant harassment of a ‘look at me’ device prompting you to look at more ‘updates’? Probably not!
Set yourself some electronic device limits. Ban them from your bedroom. Also, to reduce anxiety, set a 60 minutes electronic curfew before you go to bed.
Introduce daily physical activity
Even in the best of times, physical activity should be a critical part of your daily routine. This can be a simple 20-minute walk at a brisk pace, a light jog or in-home workouts. Whatever you choose, it should be at a rate that helps you exert sufficient energy to prepare you for bed later. Remember, exercising helps to reduce stress and anxiety, which you’ll need to do in order to sleep better!
Limit eating before going to bed
When it comes to eating (and some drinks also), try limit the time between consumption and going to bed. If you are a light sleeper, caffeine or alcohol or high-sugar foods can be disruptors to a good night of sleep so look to limit your intake.
Why sleep matters
Data from the State of America’s Sleep study found that the best sleepers in the US 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. So eat well, stay informed, exercise rigorously and sleep peacefully!