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Being Unemployed can Really Mess with Your Sleep Routine–Here’s How You can Fix That

Losing your job can wreak havoc on more than just your finances. Numerous studies have documented links between unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, and increased obesity, mental illness, and hypertension.

And now, a new study has looked into the complicated relationship between job loss and sleep.

Less and More Around 9% of unemployed people report sleeping for 10 or more hours each night

Economist Danny Blanchflower and social scientist Alex Bryson found that unemployed people tend to sleep less compared to the rest of the population. They attributed this decrease in sleeping hours to the worry and anxiety that comes with losing one’s source of income.

Their study showed that 13% of those who are newly unemployed only got about four hours or less each night.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that unemployed people also tend to sleep more than normal, a concept dubbed by social scientists as ‘long sleep’. This tendency was linked to the use of medication for mental conditions like anxiety and depression, and illnesses like lupus.

Unfortunately, both oversleeping and under-sleeping can make it even harder for the jobless to find work. The habits can also cause them to eventually develop serious health problems.

Timely Findings

theskaman306/Shutterstock: Despite realizing the economic impact of layoffs, we’re only beginning to understand the health impacts of job loss on workers

Blanchflower and Bryson’s study used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This is a yearly survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on over 400,000 American adults.

Since the survey’s questions vary from year to year, the researchers pieced their data together from the findings of 13 years’ worth of surveys. That said, it’s important to note that Blanchflower and Bryson’s research hasn’t considered the effects of the coronavirus pandemic yet.

Still, their findings may shed light on how the reported 13 million unemployed Americans are doing right now. This figure is twice as large from the one recorded just a year ago.

Sleep Tricks

Serhii Krot/Shutterstock: Some experts recommend doing relaxing activities like drawing or coloring

If you’re among the millions of people who suddenly found themselves jobless, here are some expert-approved tips to get your sleep routine back on track.

Sleep medicine specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta recommends leaving the bed within the first 20 minutes of going to bed if you really can’t get yourself to sleep. Although the advice seems counterintuitive, getting out of bed and focusing on activities that require minimal mental energy can help knock you out faster than just tossing and turning.

Another tip is to schedule 10 minutes of ‘worry time’ early in the day if it’s work-related stress that keeps you up at night.

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