The Sleep Factor: When Money Stress Costs You Your Sleep

I don’t know about you, but sleep is an essential for me. I really prioritize a good night’s sleep because I am NOT a happy camper if I don’t. You wouldn’t like sleepy-me. (Or hungry-me but that’s a story for another time.)

If I don’t sleep well, I wake up groggy, it takes a crane to pull me out of bed (figuratively), and then my mind is all foggy for the rest of the day. If I can cross one item off my to-do list by the end of a fatigue-ridden day, I consider myself successful. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Well, over the past few months, I’ve been struggling with sleep and I have zero patience for it. I’ve been experimenting with solutions and there’s been a lot of trial and error. (Singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is not as effective when you’re 30 surprisingly.)

I can almost guarantee a good night’s sleep if I drink a super strong mug of chamomile tea (also an herb for wealth – who knew!) and set an electronics curfew an hour before bedtime. Then, any issues my brain latches onto (as if now, when my #1 priority is to sleep, is the time to contemplate world peace), must be written down and saved for the following day. Besides, aside from world peace, most of them seem petty the next morning anyway.

I seem to have finally found my groove but it’s hard work, man! I have to be really mindful about my priorities (sleep) and strict with my boundaries (no mindless social media scrolling, texts on DND). Somehow focusing on the big picture goal of quality S-L-E-E-P keeps all the little distractions at bay.

*Oprah voice* Juuuuuust liiiiiike oooour fiiiiiiinancesssss! #nailedit

Now, I don’t know how much sleep you need because, like money, how much we need varies person to person, but 7 hours is good for me. And if stressing over my finances gets in the way of that, we have a big problem, buddy.

Challenges help us grow and learn and a little excitement is good for the soul. But we’re human and we have our limits even if we can totally survive outside our comfort zone.

During my corporate career, I had a conversation with a mentor about what he called The Sleep Factor that stuck with me over the years.

He was telling me about a financial product he was trying to sell his father early in his career that would have saved him a significant sum of money. He said he wrote up the proposal with the calculations and charts and said “Look how much money this will save you! It’s stupid NOT to do this.”

And his father said “I get it, I may be stupid, but my monthly payment is low now, I sleep better at night knowing I don’t have to worry about affording what I have now.”

Remember when I was addicted to personal finance {LINK}, always scheming out the best financial choices, and then still getting stressed over them?

Financial health is important but money comes and goes. You can always earn more money but you only get one life. Your mental health and your physical health are just as important as your finances (if not more so!).

I just wanted to pop into your inbox to give you permission to not do the most fiscally “smart” thing if it’s going to make you too uncomfortable to sleep well. That is, as long as you pay attention enough to know what your wallet is up to.

Here are a few rules to keep your finances from keeping you up at night.

Know your values.

This is so simple and so hard at the same time but it is an essential task to stop feeling bad about yourself and make better choices. It’s simple because we have to determine if we value something or not. It’s hard because there are a lot of feelings we need to acknowledge to determine that.

If one of your top priorities is spending quality time with your family, you’re not going to stress about the $1,000 you added to your credit card debt to visit your ailing grandmother. If you do, maybe Grandma’s not so nice and she’s not someone you felt deserved your time and money, which is another value essentially – not spending time or money on mean people.

I value my economic empowerment and the ability to not contribute to a financial institution’s outrageous profits but not so much that I’d turn away an opportunity to enroll in a program to master a passion of mine. But that’s me.

The truth is as long as we are still on the path to living our ideal lives, it doesn’t matter how much money is in our bank accounts. I’ve never heard of anyone on their deathbed saying “I’m really glad I never spent any money and stayed in doing nothing all the time.”

Test Your Boundaries

Like my sleep training, there is going to be a lot of trial and error. You’re going to make the wrong call every now and then. That’s okay! The important thing is that you learn from it and use it make future money decisions.

At some point you’re going to spend more money on something than its value. You’re going to pay for something you can’t quite afford and it won’t be worthwhile. You might wake up at 3AM feeling crappy about it.

First, let go of the shame. We all make mistakes. You might think you should have known better or done better but hindsight is 20/20. You didn’t have all the information you have right now.

Stay Woke

Remember to consider your values and the way you feel. When the same thing comes up again, remember how it made you feel.

For example, I was feeling blue and frustrated about plans falling through and it was distracting me from getting work done. This is the thought process that followed:

“I should journal about this. Get it out of my head and move on. I’m sick of my journals though. I should treat myself to a new journal. That will make me feel better. But then I have to disrupt my day even more and go out and buy a journal. I should save that $10-$20 for my food budget anyway. Ugh, I don’t have enough money for everything I want. This sucks.”

Sound familiar? But then this happened:

“I hate feeling like I don’t have enough money. And I hate treating myself to unimportant things I regret later. Eh, I’ll just use a piece of paper from my printer. It doesn’t have to be perfect. No money spent! More money for food! I have everything I need!”

This is what I’ve been teaching in the Mindful Money Lab and it’s been so flippin’ awesome. These moments of self-doubt and scarcity and restrictive limits – they never go away altogether. We just handle them more constructively, rather than destructively.

I’ll be restructuring the Mindful Money Lab a little bit for the next enrollment but I’m so excited about this stuff. It’s so much more important than learning how to budget and pay off debt. Not that that stuff isn’t important – it’s just necessary to commit to learning and utilizing the fiscal logic of personal finance.

So tell me: How much is sleep worth to you?

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Lily @ The Frugal Gene October 13, 2017

    Aw that’s a great mindset to have. I never had bad-bad debt but a friend of mine did and she said it was like waking up at midnight with “asphyxiation.” At the time I was too young to understand what she means but now I do.

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