Friday, January 2, 2009

Are You in a Sleep Recession?

It was no shock when economists finally determined that the U.S. economy is in recession. Our wallets and investments have been taking a pounding. So has our sleep.

Surveys by groups such as Amway Global Wellness Index, Compass Bank and ComPsych Corporation have all reported the same trend: The economy is keeping people awake at night.

A new study in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep takes a closer look. The study of 370 women links financial strain to decreased sleep quality and lower "sleep efficiency."

Women reporting financial strain had more sleep complaints. They also spent a greater percentage of time awake while in bed. "Financial strain" meant the women had trouble paying for basics like food, housing and medical care.

Economists expect things to get worse in 2009. So how can you fight insomnia during difficult times?

First you need to give yourself a break from the bad news. Turn off the TV and the radio, and get away from the computer. Spend some time relaxing and doing something that you enjoy.

Make sure you follow the principles of good sleep hygiene. Avoid caffeine and alcohol late in the day. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.

When problems persist, seek help at an AASM-accredited sleep center. A board-certified sleep specialist will determine the best treatment option for you.

One option is cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps you develop habits and a mindset that promotes good sleep. Your doctor also may prescribe a medication that can help you break the cycle of sleepless nights.

How about you? Are your worries about the economy keeping you awake at night?

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