How Sleep Impacts Your Finances and Career

Sleep deprivation doesn’t only impact your health — it can affect your finances and career.

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Last Updated: 7/1/2022
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Getting consistent and quality sleep is necessary for your mind and body to recharge. Sleep deprivation can affect your physical and mental well-being and it may even hurt your career and finances in the long run.

In the U.S., sleep issues are common. Millions of adults experience various disorders, including insomnia. Discover why getting a good night’s rest is so important, how it benefits you and its impact on your health and finances.

Why Aren’t You Getting Restful Sleep?

Sleep deprivation can significantly affect a person in the long run. It can lead to mood changes, weakened immunity, memory issues and various health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that around 35.2% of U.S. adults sleep less than the average seven or more hours.

There are different factors affecting sleep quality. Knowing the common causes of a lack of sleep can help address the problem.

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    Medical conditions

    Certain diseases and medical conditions can lead to less sleep. These include ADHD, allergies, arthritis, depression, fibromyalgia and PTSD. Surgery and operations, as well as certain medications, can also cause sleep deprivation.

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    Sleep disorders

    Chronic sleep disorders are among the most common causes of sleep deprivation. These include insomnia, parasomnias, restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea and circadian rhythm disorders.

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    Lifestyle

    Lifestyle can affect your sleep. Doing shift work can prevent you from having a good sleep schedule. Consuming too much caffeine can stimulate the body and keep you awake. Smoking can also increase the risk of insomnia and sleep disturbances. Using electronics before bed can inhibit sleep.

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    Stress

    Stress can cause anxiety and fatigue, preventing you from getting restful sleep. You may end up staying awake all night or get low sleep quality. Various stressors can affect you, including job-related issues, losing a loved one and even financial stress.

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    Poor sleep hygiene

    Sleep hygiene refers to behavioral and environmental practices that create a consistent and stable sleep schedule, such as avoiding daytime naps and sleeping in a quiet, comfortable bedroom. Poor sleep hygiene can cause inadequate sleep and what’s effective varies by individual.

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    Socioeconomic or demographic factors

    People in disadvantaged groups, demographics and socioeconomic status suffer from sleep disorders more often. There are a variety of potential contributors. For instance, people of color are more likely to have irregular work shifts, encounter discrimination and face unemployment and poverty that causes financial stress.

How Having Poor Sleep Quality Hurts Your Career

Poor sleep impacts your overall well-being. It can affect your physical and mental health and various aspects of your life, such as your career.

Since sleep allows your body and mind to recover, inadequate sleep can impair your ability to function throughout the day. Low work performance and decreased productivity can be caused by missing sleep.

The Link Between Your Sleep and Job

The symptoms of sleep deprivation go beyond the feeling of tiredness. It may also cause irritability, lack of cognitive function, poor decision skills, reduced focus, mental health issues and other health problems that may interfere with your work.

Here are some examples showing the link between sleep quality and work.

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Productivity decreases and lower work performance

Inadequate sleep can leave you feeling tired, preventing you from focusing on tasks you need to accomplish at work. You may be easily distracted and also struggle to be productive.

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Poor health and increased absenteeism

Sleep deprivation can lead to physical and mental health problems in the long run. Such issues can lead to more frequent absenteeism and sick leaves.

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Cognitive function and judgment impairment

The brain goes through changes during the different sleep cycles. Completing all cycles helps your brain recover fully. A lack of sleep can prevent your brain from functioning properly and lead to poor judgment. It can decrease your alertness and reduce your ability to process information.

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Risk of workplace accidents increases

Fatigue and excessive sleepiness can also affect your reflexes, leading to a slower reaction time. You’re also more likely to misjudge situations and make errors. In some cases, such mistakes cause workplace accidents.

The True Cost of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is essential for everyone, especially working individuals. The effects of losing sleep go beyond health-related issues. Sleep deprivation can lead to lower wages and more expenses, from medical costs to health insurance. It could also affect your financial decision-making and reasoning skills.

The actual cost of sleep deprivation, in terms of personal finance and overall economic losses, is highlighted below.

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Economy loss

The U.S. loses approximately 2.28% of its GDP or up to $411 billion annually due to the estimated 1.2 million working days lost because of sleep deprivation. Changing the average sleep duration from under six hours to seven could lead to an additional $226.4 billion in the country’s economy.

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Employer loss

Employers are also affected by their employees’ lack of sleep, mainly due to low productivity and high absenteeism. For instance, absenteeism due to insomnia may cost employers an additional $976 per person annually.

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Health care costs

Since chronic sleep deprivation could lead to different health issues and disorders, it’s likely to spend more on health care. In terms of health care utilization, individuals suffering from sleep disorders accumulate about $7,000 more in health care expenses per year.

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Lower wages

Contrary to what many believe, working more doesn't always lead to earning more. A study on time use and labor productivity shows that a one-hour increase in average weekly sleep can cause roughly a 1% increase in work earnings in the short term and around 5% in the long run.

An illustration of a woman's sleeping habits and the impact it has on her finances.

How Does Getting Enough Sleep Help You Earn More?

Having enough sleep has many benefits. Aside from enhancing your work performance, it can even help you earn more. Additionally, adequate and quality sleep can boost your health. In turn, you strengthen your ability to make better-informed decisions.

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    Health

    The most known benefit of adequate and quality sleep is improved physical and mental health. Sleep can boost your immunity and reduce the chance of you getting sick. This could help you earn more as it prevents absenteeism. It could also save you money by reducing your health care expenses.

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    Work Performance

    Getting enough sleep can improve your brain function, specifically cognition and concentration. Because of this, you’re likely to be more productive and efficient at work. It could also lessen the likelihood of making errors while on the job. Better work performance can also help you attain your career goals.

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    Decision-Making

    Better focus and concentration can help you make sure that you're making more informed decisions. This doesn’t only apply to your work. It also extends to your finances. You can think more clearly and rationally when it comes to expenses. This can help you manage your budget wisely.

4 Ways to Help You Sleep Better

Sleeping better offers many advantages. Your body and mind require adequate sleep. However, overcoming sleep deprivation can be challenging.

You can start by taking simple steps to help you fall asleep. Avoid disturbances and various things that may interfere with your sleep. Adopting certain practices that encourage good quality sleep can also help you attain a better sleep schedule.

1. Having a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle benefits your sleep. Watch what you eat and drink during the day. Regular exercise can help achieve good health. Additionally, knowing what food, drinks and chemicals to avoid will allow you to establish a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

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BETTER HEALTH FOR BETTER SLEEP

1) Exercise. Ensure you exercise regularly, but do it at the right time. You must finish your routine at least three hours before you go to bed. If you want to exercise in the evening, consider low-impact movements like stretching or relaxing exercises like yoga.

2) Eat healthy foods. Consider cutting back on sugary food or refined carbs. Avoid having huge meals at night as much as possible. You can opt to make dinnertime a bit earlier. Drinking liquids late in the day can cause sleep disruption as you may need frequent trips to the bathroom.

3) Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Avoid caffeine intake at least four to six hours before bedtime because it can act as a stimulant. Similarly, don’t drink alcohol within three hours before your bedtime, as it may interfere with your sleep cycle. If you’re a smoker, try not to smoke close to bedtime.

4) Be a wise shopper. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle need not be expensive. You can create a budget plan for your food and groceries. Comparing prices from different grocery stores can also help you save money. Using coupons can also help reduce your expenses. If possible, consider growing some fruits and vegetables in your garden.

2. Creating a Sleep-Friendly Environment

A sleep-friendly environment can help you sleep faster and better. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable space that allows you to wind down. Generally, a quiet, dark and cool room is best for sleeping.

Improving your sleep environment doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money. Even small changes can make a difference.

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ACHIEVING A RESTFUL ROOM

1) Reduce light and noise exposure. Limit light exposure by adding heavy or blackout curtains. If necessary, use an eye mask to block light from outside. If you can’t avoid noise from outside, consider using earplugs. You may also play music at a low volume if it helps you relax.

2) Go for comfort. Make sure you’re comfortable with your bed, blankets and pillows. If you usually wake up with body aches or a sore back, consider trying different mattress firmness or using foam toppers. Keeping the temperature cool and ensuring that your room is well-ventilated can help prevent sleep disruptions.

3) Avoid other activities. Avoid having distractions in the bedroom, such as a TV and other electronics. Do not do work-related stuff on your bed to prevent your brain from associating your room with these activities.

3. Manage Your Worries and De-Stress

Managing stress can help you sleep well. As much as possible, try to resolve your concerns before going to bed — whether they be work-related, relationship issues or financial problems. If that’s not possible, let go of your worries before bedtime. Instead, you can write your thoughts and get back to them tomorrow.

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KEEP CALM AND GET SOME REST

1) Aim for relaxation. Instead of forcing yourself to sleep, try to relax. You can do some deep breathing exercises, meditation or visualization. Try different methods and find the one that works for you.

2) Clear your head. Avoid overthinking when you’re trying to fall asleep. Reducing distractions can also help clear your mind. For instance, you can set specific times for visiting social media and checking your phone.

3) Create a soothing routine. Establish a routine that will help you relax before bedtime. For instance, reading a book or doing a relaxing exercise an hour or so before bed can help soothe your mind and body. Avoid dwelling on emotional issues when trying to fall asleep, as these may trigger stress.

4. Get Professional Help

If you have tried various methods to deal with sleep deprivation and nothing worked, consider getting professional help. That’s especially true if you suffer from sleep disorders and health issues, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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KNOW WHEN YOU NEED HELP

1) Schedule a checkup. Get help as soon as possible. A doctor can help determine the specific cause of your sleep deprivation. Additionally, they can give helpful advice that would help you deal with your sleep disorder or health problem.

2) Consider sleep aid medicines. Ask your doctor for a sleep aid medication. Inform them about all medicines you’re taking to avoid adverse drug interactions. Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions. Don’t take higher or lower dosages without their approval.

3) Manage financial stress. Sometimes, financial stress causes sleep deprivation. You may consider financial therapy if you find your financial problems too challenging to handle. Doing this can help you get your finances in order while learning ways to manage financial stress.

An illustration of a woman thinking about money in her sleep.

Ways to Fight Financial Stress for Better Sleep

For many individuals, financial stress is the leading cause of sleep problems. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), money is consistently among the top sources of stress across generations.

Mental health also affects spending habits and can create a cycle of bad spending habits, financial stress and sleep deprivation again and again. Working on financial problems and fighting financial anxiety can break this cycle.

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Practice sound financial management

Create a budget plan and stick to it. Make sure you’re also preparing for possible emergencies. You can do this by building an emergency fund. Having short-term and long-term goals can also help you manage your finances better.

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Avoid money talk in the bedroom

Talking about money, especially when facing financial problems, can create additional pressure. It may be best to avoid money talk before bedtime. That doesn’t mean that you should just ignore your financial issues. It means setting aside a specific time to think about your concerns.

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Get help

Sometimes, getting professional help is the best option. Counseling may be necessary if your financial stress is highly affecting your sleep, for example. The proper professional can help you with financial and debt management. Visiting a nonprofit organization offering counseling services or seeing a private financial therapist may be a good place to start.

Expert Insight on the Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Finances

Understanding how your sleep and finances are correlated can help you better manage your money. MoneyGeek consulted several industry experts for their insights to help you make well-informed decisions.

  1. For many Americans, financial stress and sleep deprivation are correlated. In such cases, what is the best step an individual can take to address both issues?
  2. According to studies, chronic lack of sleep can affect a person’s finances. Can you share some tips on how a person deals with the financial impact of sleep deprivation?
Kevin Chancellor
Kevin Chancellor

Certified Financial Advisor & Planner, Certified Social Security Claiming Strategist, and Founder & CEO of Black Lab Financial

Tasha Haynes
Tasha Haynes

Certified Public Accountant & Blogger at Managing & Making Money

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan

Retired Financial Planner & Financial Coach at MichaelRyanMoney.com

Additional Resources for Dealing With the Impact of Sleep Deprivation

Dealing with the effects of sleep deprivation and disorders can be challenging. Fortunately, there are various resources available to help you get started.

Financial Stress

  • Consumer Credit Counseling Services: The CCCS promotes credit awareness and financial literacy. Today, it also offers nonprofit credit counseling services.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC helps people trying to cope with debt. It also links to debt relief services, credit counseling and debt management resources.
  • Financial Therapy Association: The FTA is an organization of financial therapy professionals. Find the right therapist for you or learn more about the field through their education video series and journal.

Sleep and Sleep Disorders

  • American Sleep Association: The ASA is an organization that aims to improve public awareness of the importance of sleep and the different dangers caused by sleep disorders. Find resources to understand common sleep disorders better and learn about sleep treatments.
  • Circadian Sleep Disorders Network: This independent non-profit organization aims to increase awareness of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. It also helps people suffering from this health problem find a doctor.
  • Narcolepsy Network: Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder affecting one in around 2,000 people in the U.S. The Narcolepsy Network helps patients find a support group or a doctor. It also conducts virtual support group meetings.
  • SleepApnea.org: This site, created by the American Sleep Apnea Association and acquired by OneCare Media, provides references to help educate people about sleep apnea and the different types of sleep apnea.
  • Sleep Education: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) created the Sleep Education website to provide reliable information about sleep disorders and treatment options. The website also has a tool to help you find a sleep center.
  • Sleep Is Good Medicine Campaign: Sleep Is Good Medicine is a campaign created by the AASM to help consumers and health care professionals understand the importance of sleep. Various infographics and information materials are available.

About the Author


expert-profile

Nathan Paulus is the director of content marketing at MoneyGeek. Nathan has been creating content for nearly 10 years and is particularly engaged in personal finance, investing, and property management. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas Houston.


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