Wake Up! It's An Economic Nightmare

More people losing sleep over financial worries

By Matt Bartosik
|  Thursday, Mar 5, 2009  |  Updated 3:49 PM CDT
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Wake Up! It's An Economic Nightmare

The unstable economy is causing nightmares on every street, experts say.

Your hair whipping around your head, you free-fall toward the ground. You unsuccessfully check for a parachute as you reach terminal velocity. With no way to slow down, it's only a matter of seconds before you'll hit the earth below. 5... 4... 3... 2...

You wake up in bed with a jolt, your heart racing. If this is a common experience for you recently, you're not alone.

Experts report that the unstable economy and overall financial anxiety have been causing more people to suffer from insomnia and nightmares.

"Dreams are mirroring whatever is emotionally important to us," Kelly Bulkeley, a psychologist and dream researcher at the Graduate Theological Union, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Right now, bad economic times are a very emotionally intense reality."

But many people aren't having nightmares because they're not sleeping. In a recent survey, the National Sleep Foundation found that more than one-third of Americans are having trouble sleeping at night. Anxiety over employment and personal finances were among the top reasons.

"[Patients] have trouble initiating sleep, they have trouble quieting the mind," said Dr. Lisa Shives, medical director at Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston. "They get into bed, and because they don't have any distractions and aren't doing anything, the worrying and the ruminating just take over."

Doctors recommend finding an outlet for worries. People can relieve stress by beginning a hobby, increasing social activities, or learning to meditate.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, one wrote a hit song in a dream but unfortunately forgot it upon waking.

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