Individuals over 50 are losing the most sleep due to the cost of living crisis, according to new research.
A survey of 1,000 people, by the financial experts at Sun Life, found that more than two in five adults (41%) aged over 50 are struggling to fall asleep at night due to worrying about money. For people aged 18 to 25, that figure is around 22%.
For over 50s, energy bills, food and petrol prices, rent and mortgage payments, as well as low disposable incomes, are among the top worries.
Abdullah Boulad, a sleep expert and founder of THE BALANCE, explains this is because stress plays a key role in our sleep-wake cycle.
‘Our sleep cycles are mainly regulated by two hormones, melatonin and cortisol,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Melatonin induces and maintains sleep and regulates your internal body clock while cortisol, known as “the stress hormone”, promotes wakefulness and alertness.’
While cortisol can be useful for getting up in the morning, he says, it’s not so helpful in the evening – especially when anxiety and stress trigger the hormone late at night, causing wakefulness rather than sleepiness.
The problem with this is that losing sleep also triggers cortisol, causing a seemingly endless feedback loop.
‘A major issue with a lack of sleep and its effect on cortisol is how it compounds problems,’ says Abdullah.
‘One goes to bed at night full of worry and wakes up in the morning feeling unrested, making it more difficult to find solutions to what is causing the stress in the first place, and so on.’
Not to mention that a lack of sleep can lead to a number of health issues – both physically and mentally.
How to get to sleep at night when you’re worried about money
While the cost of living crisis can’t be solved through mindfulness techniques, it’s important to focus on short-term solutions that will help you get some well-needed rest.
Talk about your problems
Having somebody you can vent to about your problems is vital. As Abdullah says, ‘a problem shared is a problems halved.’
He adds that this can help you to get some perspective on your situation and ‘solutions might come easier than you think.’
Whether it’s a psychologist or a loved one, simply talking about your emotions might help you to think less about them at night.
Journal about your problems
Both Gemma and Abdullah recommend journaling before bed in order to help you gain some perspective over your problems – and, as Gemma says, differentiate between the things you can and can’t change.
Sleep journaling – AKA, writing down your thoughts and worries in a journal in the hours leading up to bed time, is a great way to get everything out, process your emotions and, hopefully, keep your mind from running rampant when your head hits the pillow
Meditate before sleep
Finally, if you still find you can’t sleep at night time, Gemma suggests trying sleep meditation or a breathing exercise.
‘If your head is still busy when you are trying to sleep, try a mindfulness technique such as a body scan, or relaxing breathing technique,’ she says.
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