Are debts keeping you awake at night?

Posted 14 April 2016

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Getting enough sleep is important to your mental and physical wellbeing. If worries about debt are standing in the way of this, find out what you can do about it in our blog.

When your mind is full of financial worries, it’s no surprise if you find it almost impossible to get to sleep at night. The fear of falling further into the red could be keeping you awake late into the night (or even morning), and if it is, you’re not alone.

1 in 6 kept awake by rent or mortgage worries

Recent research carried out by Yougov on behalf of Shelter found that nearly one in six (16%) Brits are losing sleep because they are so worried about paying to keep the roof over their heads. Whether it’s missing mortgage payments or being in arrears to your landlord that’s preventing you from dropping off, it’s hardly a surprise when what’s at risk is so important.

Research* we carried out in 2014 revealed that, of the people we spoke to who were worried about their debts, half admitted that these fears were affecting their sleep. And whether it was because of the lack of rest or the overwhelming worry about their debts, many respondents revealed they were also struggling at work.

Perhaps the most worrying finding of all was that a third of the people with debt concerns we spoke to voiced their fears that this had affected their mental health. And more than a quarter admitted that their physical wellbeing had suffered.

Why debts can keep you awake

Being in debt can have far-reaching consequences for you and your family. You may be falling behind with your mortgage or rent payments because you’re trying to keep on top of your loan and credit card payments. Or, you may be wondering how you’ll keep food on the table if the interest and penalties your creditors are charging are leaving you with no spare money at the end of the month.

If your creditors have started to try and contact you or you’re fearful that bailiffs will come to your home, the stress of this can prevent you from getting enough sleep. And if you haven’t told anyone about your situation, you may feel that you’re having to carry the burden of your debt worries alone.

Why sleep matters

Getting proper sleep is really important for your health and wellbeing, and when you’re not getting enough, it can have pretty serious consequences. According to these recommendations, if you’re aged between 18 and 64, you should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you’re over 65 years old, the ideal number of ZZZs to catch is seven to eight hours. So, what happens if your debt worries mean you’re not getting this quota?

According to the NHS: “It’s now clear that a solid night’s sleep is essential for a long and healthy life.” As we mentioned above, the guideline is around eight hours a night. Of course, some people can quite happily function on less than this and some need more – but the crucial thing is that you know yourself. And if you feel that you’re not sleeping because your debts are keeping you awake, and that your day-to-day life is suffering as a result, this is a cause for concern.

The effects of too little sleep range from irritability and difficulty concentrating, to serious medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. On top of this, you risk falling asleep during the day – perhaps at your desk – and your ability to drive safely could be seriously impaired.

What you can do about it?

If you think your debt worries are to blame for keeping you awake, it’s time to get help. A problem shared is a problem halved, and by sharing your worries with someone, you may find it suddenly gets easier to drop off at night.

However, we understand that you might not want to share your worries with friends or family, perhaps because you don’t want to burden them. There are other options available though. Our trained debt advisors are waiting with a friendly ear and the offer of expert advice that could help you decide what to do next. You can reach us through one of the options on the left of this page. Let us know your current situation and we will be able to tell you if there’s a debt solution that’s suitable.

How a debt solution could help

There are lots of debt solutions out there and the one that’s right for you depends on your unique circumstances. Our debt advisors are here to look at them all and recommend the one that best suits your needs.

The one thing that each solution has in common is that it gives you a way to tackle your debts and can set you on the path to getting back in control of your finances. You can find out about the different debt solutions available here


*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 10th January and 15th January 2014.

by Kyri Levendi

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.