Is there anything worse than lying awake at night, desperate to go to sleep and yet completely unable to drift off? What makes this even worse is that sleep deprivation is costing us all money. A recent study found that the British economy loses £40 million ($51.5 million) a year due to sleep deprivation, as it causes sick days, health problems and stress. And this effect on national economies was also seen in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Japan, to varying degrees.
This information got me thinking — how much does my insomnia cost me?
I’ve had sleep problems for years. I was diagnosed with a thyroid problem at age 11, when I had long since been unable to sleep at night. Even now, my health problems in check, I get periods of debilitating insomnia. Sometimes whole weeks will pass, and I won’t have had an unbroken night’s sleep. Some nights I don’t actually go to sleep at all, but switch between reading, meditating, and watching Netflix.
The physical toll of a lack of sleep can, of course, cost us money, as we end up needing to take sick days because we simply cannot function on zero sleep. The average person needs seven hours of sleep, although this can vary greatly. Just 24 hours without sleep will affect coordination, memory, and judgment. If insomnia goes on for weeks, just imagine how impaired you could be at work.
Aside from the cost of sick days, insomnia has a number of other financial potholes.
In the early hours, boredom can kick in. Sometimes this leads to writing and creativity; other times, watching endless YouTube videos and finding myself online shopping. In the dark, early morning hours, it suddenly seems like a fair way to cheer myself up by buying that dress, blouse, stack of books, or beauty product I had managed to stop myself from buying during the day. I also have the habit of googling ways to solve insomnia — and that is where the real costs kick in.
The capitalist world that we live in has a (costly) solution for every problem, and insomnia is no different. You can find anything from natural sleeping pills to melatonin, herbal teas, specialist pillows, anti-anxiety blankets, meditation audiobooks, books about sleep and insomnia, workout gear to tire you out for sleep, essential oils, bubble bath, body lotion, lavender heat packs, cotton pajamas, and silk pillows.
The list of possible solutions goes on and on, and the price is growing ever higher for that elusive seven hours of blissful sleep. When I look around my room and consider a week’s worth of insomnia, I find a black hole in my finances that looks something like this:
- Herbal Sleeping Pills, £6 ($7.73)
- Lavender Essential Oil, £12 ($15.46)
- Sleep Body Lotion, £15 ($19.32)
- Muscle and Joint Cream, £18 ($23.18)
- Book on Mindfulness, £8 ($10.30)
- Meditation Audiobook, £7 ($9.02)
- Midnight Impulse Spending, £50 ($64.40)
- Total: £116 ($149.41)
It’s also worth noting that this estimate of costs doesn’t include my specialist mattress, which will soon need replacing and cost I don’t even know how much. Or the cost of my high-tog duvet, breathable bed linen, cotton pajamas, and all those yoga classes and equipment which have all been purchased in the hope of inducing sleep.
Of course, some of these items are lifestyle purchases that would have come along anyway, but when I look at some of my late-night purchases over recent years, I can see that tiredness makes me believe that I can purchase something to make myself feel better. Whether it’s a new outfit, signing up for a fitness class, or scrolling Instagram and clicking links to the products advertised by my favorite influencers, my spending habits change once I’m tired and wishing for sleep. I become open to the tricks of the marketer’s trade, and very often parcels arrive only to be returned as with the morning I feel regret on top of my insomniac’s hangover.
Over the last three months, I have started to make changes to this drain on my finances. I’ve wanted to cut down on my mindless spending and in particular spending on clothes and this midnight, shopping habit was an obvious place to start.
Here are some tips on quashing your late-night impulse spending:
1. Don’t save login details or credit card details on your phone. If all you have to do is tap sign in and then tap complete purchase, you’re more likely to buy out of boredom or stress when you can’t sleep. After all, you won’t want to climb out of bed to find your card to complete the purchase.
2. Save items for later. If you do find yourself browsing because it’s 4 AM and you have nothing else to do, then add anything you like the look of to a wishlist and go back to it the next day or a few days later. You might wonder what your sleep-deprived self was thinking, and you won’t have the loss of delivery costs or the faff of returning things you don’t actually want or need.
3. Create an insomnia tool kit. Make a list of things you can do when you can’t sleep. Read a book, watch a film, meditate. Having things to do to distract yourself from the fact that everyone else is asleep and you’re not will help you to avoid spending. Also, create a good bedtime routine and brush up on your sleep hygiene, such as turning off your mobile phone, will hopefully help your sleep to improve.
Insomnia can be a vicious cycle, and it can be tricky to get back into the habit of sleeping once you’ve fallen off the bandwagon. It’s a horrible place to be, but it will get better. If insomnia is an ongoing problem for you, then definitely ask your doctor for advice before investing in any sleep remedies, which can cost lots of money and maybe (probably) won’t work.
Hannah Bullimore is a writer and blogger from Newcastle, England. She loves learning about ethical fashion, health, and wellbeing and is an avid reader. In 2019 she will be training to be a yoga teacher and continuing to teach creative writing as a form of self-care. She writes lifestyle posts and book reviews on her blog which can be found at hjbullimore.wordpress.com.
Image via Unsplash