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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Money Worries Keeping You Up At Night? 1 In 3 Americans Lose Sleep Over Finances, Poll Says


Worrying about money can be stressful, distracting and time-consuming. According to new research, a third of Americans are actually losing sleep over it.

Experts say chronic concern over finances can take quite a physical toll on the person doing the worrying. 

Pricey housing, staggering electric bills, heaps of student loan debt, a puny savings account; when it comes to worrying about money, there are limitless ways to stress. And no two bodies handle it quite the same.

Just ask Dallas’ Tessa Ostheimer.

“My lease is almost up and I’m looking to move somewhere else and everywhere I look is astronomical rent. When I dwell on it, it makes my stomach hurt and it makes me kind of nauseous and that’s why I don’t eat," she says.

Courtney Canada gets that too.

“I worry about being financially stable to purchase a home, purchase a car, have children," she says. "Makes me tired, and emotional. My neck, my back, all that starts to hurt when I’m stressed out, which when I’m thinking about money I’m usually stressed out.”

A Third Of Americans In the Same Boat

These three are not alone. Each year, the public radio program Marketplaceputs out a national poll called the “Economic Anxiety Index.” Last year, it showed 28 percent of Americans were losing sleep over their financial situation. This year, the figure jumped to 32 percent.

Daniel Pearson, at Methodist Health System in Dallas, isn’t surprised.

“That kind of chronic worry, worrying about that’s going to effect in this case finances, is something that does have long-term effects on the body," he says.

Pearson is a psychiatrist and says tossing in turning in bed is just one physical symptom plaguing those with money woes. They have stomach problems, chronic back pain and weak immune systems too.

And the fact that financial concern tends to be constant makes things worse.

“Worrying about being able to pay taxes, being able to pay off student loans, mortgages, worrying about whether you’re going to be able to keep your job, have a job," he says. "All of those things, that long-term duration is probably what affects us as much as anything else.”

Seeking Out Relief

Financial worry is tricky to live with, because most people need to earn more or spend less to make their situation better. And not everybody can do that.

Pearson says if money problems are disruptive and causing physical symptoms, therapy can help people manage that kind of stress. Perhaps even more important is the support of coworkers, friends and loved ones, who may have been there too.

Seeing a counselor, attending a support group, even medication won’t make financial worry disappear. They can make it easier to shoulder—and help people get a little sleep at night.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.