I ran across a study recently that detailed the top anxieties that keep Americans awake at night. GfK Custom Research polled 1,000 American adults about sleep issues on behalf of Bankrate (a leading personal finance website). While I have seen studies like this in the past, this particular research did a good job of pulling out generational differences in sleep-related stressors. For younger baby boomers (for this survey defined as ages 54-63), money is the top reason given for not sleeping well.
Within the money worries category, saving enough for retirement tops the list. This certainly lines up with our observations from working with clients in this age group. I asked a near retirement age prospective client recently if he was confident about having enough money to retire; his answer was, ”I hope so”. My guess is this type of “hope” is a major source of stress keeping him awake at night.
Gen Xers, the group under the baby boomers, listed relationships as their primary anxiety, with money worries a close second and this held true for Millennials as well.
Overall, as this chart depicts, older Millennials are the most likely to lose sleep over money worries followed closely by Gen Xers and Younger baby boomers.
Source: Bankrate Money Worries Survey
The Multi-Billion Dollar Sleep Industry
With American consumers spending an estimated $50 Billion each year on products and medications to assist with sleep, there is some evidence people are sleeping a little more but perhaps not better than in years past. A large study published earlier this year by the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine reflects a slight uptick in the aggregate amount of sleep by Americans. This study included data from over 181,000 individuals for a 14-year period ending in 2016.
One very interesting observation from the Perelman Medical School Study is that the frequency of internet searches for “sleep” or “short sleep” increased 10x during the 14-year duration of the study.
Wired and Tired
These findings aside, an estimated 40 million American adults suffer from chronic sleep issues. Some have argued that the proliferation of electronic devices over the past decade or so is partly to blame. Most of these devices use cold blue light and this type of light inhibits melatonin production, a critical factor in inducing sleep. This article, Why Tech’s Favorite Color is making us all Miserable, walks through all the problems blue light can cause.
Yet another study by Creditcards.com published in 2016 found that 68% of women surveyed lose sleep over money but only 56% of men. This seems to backstop the general observation that women tend to be more security aware than men and thus worry more.
Pay Attention to 3 Things
Are you dealing with money concerns on the conscious level or letting your subconscious work on these issues while you toss and turn? Pay attention to just three things: What you make; What you save/invest; What you spend. Start there. Ready for a real conversation?