Losing Sleep Over the State of the Economy?

Recession Has Millions of Americans Tossing and Turning, Poll Shows

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 02, 2009
From the WebMD Archives

March 2, 2009 -- Worried you might lose your job? Searching for a new one? Concerned that your retirement funds are dwindling? In the mood, but lack the energy?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may be among the nearly one-third of Americans who are losing sleep because of personal finances, job fears, and the nightmarish state of the economy.

According to a new poll by the National Sleep Foundation:

  • 16% of Americans say their sleep has been disturbed at least a few nights a week in the past month because of personal financial concerns; 15% cite worries about the economy and 10% express concerns about employment.
  • 8% report losing sleep because of health care costs, 6% toss and turn because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 3% blame their lack of shut-eye on the threat of terrorism, and 3% lose sleep over global warming.

The poll suggests that inadequate sleep is associated with unhealthy lifestyles and that not getting enough sleep has a detrimental effect on health and safety.

"It's easy to understand why so many people are concerned over the economy and jobs, but sacrificing sleep is the wrong solution," says David Cloud, chief executive officer of the National Sleep Foundation. "Sleep is essential for productivity and alertness and is a vital sign for one's overall health."

About 40% of Americans agree that sleep is as important as diet and exercise to overall health, yet the poll says only 32% of people with sleep problems discuss their concerns with doctors.

According to the poll, two out of every 10 Americans sleep fewer than six hours a night.

It also finds that:

  • 28% of everyone surveyed reported that they have driven when drowsy at least once a month in the past year.
  • Nearly 90% surveyed reported they had insomnia at least a few nights a week in the past month.

"With the economy worsening, we are seeing patients in our clinic who have told us that they would not be returning for treatment because they or a family member have lost their jobs, and they are concerned about costs," says Meir Kryger, MD, director of research and education at Gaylord Sleep Services.

So what are you supposed to do if you’re having trouble sleeping?

  • Use your bedroom only for sex and sleep.
  • Keep a regular bedtime.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet, and that you've got a comfortable sleep surface, pillow, and bedding.
  • Turn off the TV, and put the laptop away.
  • Exercise as much as you can, but make sure you stop at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid foods and drinks high in caffeine for at least eight hours before bedtime; stay away from alcohol, which disturbs sleep.
WebMD Health News



News release, National Sleep Foundation.

National Sleep Foundation, 2009 poll.

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