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Financial problems, bills causing you anxiety? How to sleep easy again

Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool
Published 1:00 a.m. ET March 27, 2019

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Anxiety can keep people from sleeping at night, and a lot of Americans have some level of concern over money.

In fact, people who worry about their bills are much more likely to have trouble sleeping than those who have no worries when it comes to paying their bills according to a new report from Mattress Advisor.

“Sleep issues and worry are known to be linked, so much so that it can be difficult to determine which one comes first in many cases,” wrote the report’s author. “And while there are ways to work around money-related stress, sleep issues can haunt you in ways that often affect your health and wellness – both physical and mental.”

Basically, it’s not guaranteed that not sleeping and money concerns are related. It is, however, much more likely that you won’t sleep well if you’re concerned with paying your bills, according to an analysis of the 26,752 individual responses to the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

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In all categories, people who expressed worry about paying their bills were more likely to have sleep issues than those who weren’t concerned. In fact, 36 percent of respondents who had bill-paying worries said they never woke up feeling rested, compared to 13 percent for non-worriers. Non-worriers were also much more likely to wake up feeling rested – 44 percent, compared to 23 percent of those worried about their bills.

The majority of those surveyed reported having at least some restless nights no matter what their concerns were. Only 37 percent said they wake up feeling rested seven days a week, while 27 percent felt that way four to six days a week, 19 percent felt rested 1 to 3 days a week, and 17 percent never feel rested.

What can you do?

Taking action might make it easier to sleep at night. When it comes to bills, that means making an actual plan to address your financial problems. Part of the reason people experience anxiety is that they push decisions down the road, hoping things somehow magically work out even though there’s a pretty strong voice in the back of their heads saying they won’t.

Try to calm your mind by getting a hold on your finances. Sit down and do a full assessment of where you stand. How much do you owe, and where do you stand on paying off debt? It’s important to look at how much money you have coming in and how much is going out.

In many cases, the worries come because we have more bills than we have income. How to handle that depends upon a number of factors. If you’re falling short when it comes to essentials – rent/mortgage, food, transportation, utilities, etc. – then you have to either cut expenses or make more money.

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That can lead to facing some harsh realities. You may not be able to afford your lifestyle. It’s important, however, to ask yourself if you’d rather live within your means and not be worried about bills or continue to face those concerns.

If your worry about bills comes from credit card debt, you may have more options. Consider consolidating debt into a personal loan, or try to negotiate lower rates with your credit providers. Once you have the debt at the lowest rates you can manage, make a sincere plan to pay it off. That means cutting whatever fat you can from your budget, making more money if possible, and throwing as much as you can each month at getting out of debt.

There’s no guarantee that taking action will help you sleep better. But it’s very likely that it will based on the numbers, and if it doesn’t – well, you’ll still be sleepy, but at least you won’t be in debt.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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