If you count sheep to help you fall asleep at night, the sleep-depriving worries that the calming, fluffy animals are meant to conquer are most likely to take the form of dollar signs…family members…or health concerns. And the vexing worry that is most likely to visit you may depend on your age.
A recent study by the personal finance website Bankrate.com found that, overall, 41% of respondents said relationships are what sometimes keeps them up at night, including family relationships, which might mean you are in conflict with family members or you’re just worried about tough issues that they are dealing with. That is especially true of millennials (ages 18 to 37). Fully half of them cited relationships as the biggest factor in sleeplessness.
The study, which consists of 1,000 interviews, found four other factors most likely to cause people to toss and turn—money, work and health, in that order, and, further back, politics.
And again, age played a big role.
The results of this study might help you deal with any anxieties that are keeping you up at night partly by assuring you that you’re far from alone—your sleep-stealing worries are likely shared by many others, especially those in your age group. The study also gives some advice on how to put your worries on the shelf when it’s time to turn in, so you can wake in the morning refreshed and ready to tackle those problems with a clear head.
The second most common culprit robbing people of sleep is money—cited by 36% of respondents overall and especially by older millennials (those 28 to 37), 43% of whom blamed financial concerns for restless nights. From there, money was less and less a concern as the age of the respondents grew higher and higher.
Among financial concerns, the top ones cited include saving enough for retirement (18%)…dealing with credit card debt (14%)…handling health-care costs (13%)…the ability to make a monthly rent or mortgage payment (12%)…and paying off educational costs (10%).
For those in the so-called silent generation (ages 73 and up), only 13% said money was a sleep-depriving worry. Their greatest concern, predictably, is health, cited by 29%.
Among baby boomers, there is a split dividing younger baby boomers (54 to 63), 39% of whom are most concerned about money, and older baby boomers (64 to 72)—a similar 37% of them cite relationship concerns as foremost among stress-inducing factors.
How should the exhausted masses cope? The study’s authors shared advice from experts who are experienced in dealing with stress-related sleeplessness. It’s impossible to ask anyone not to worry at night about heavy issues like work, money and relationships. But there are a few things you can do if these concerns are robbing you of critical, health-promoting sleep.
First, prioritize sleep and treat it as if it were just as important to your health and well-being as diet and exercise, because it is. Second, consider writing in a journal before you hit the sack. A ritual of dumping stress out of your head and onto paper can have a calming effect while helping you work out potential solutions as you write. Next, consider practicing yoga or meditation before bed, both of which can help to tamp down your brain’s internal chatter and clear your mind when it’s time to sleep.
To keep money worries from ruining your sleep, try addressing any negative feelings you have about your financial situation and list what you can do to tackle financial challenges in the short term and over the next year.
You’ll still have concerns, of course, but you’ll feel more in control of them and closer to solutions. Then, get some sleep.