Guest Editorial: Is Your Sleep Debt Growing?

We talk a lot about financial debt here on, but today I’m glad to bring you a guest post from Nancy Ulrich of Nancy has prepared the article below (everything below this paragraph) which talks about the potential of a sleep debt growing in your life. It’s very interesting – I suggest giving this article a read. Enjoy!

Is Your Sleep Debt Growing?

Or is your debt growing because of your sleep?

Your sleep shouldn’t cause your debts to grow. But poor sleep habits and poor mattress choices can give you financial nightmares.

How Can Sleep Debt Be Expensive?

Asleep at work?

Most Americans get by on 7 hours of sleep a night. But studies have shown that the average optimum amount of sleep is closer to 8. You’re probably running a sleep deficit or ‘sleep debt’ right now. But it’s just an hour a night, what harm could it do?

The effects of sleep deprivation of just one hour can be seen the next day. Just look at what happens when we move the clocks forward by an hour in the springtime. In the days following the first Monday of the change to Daylight Saving Time there’s a spike in heart attacks, workplace injuries and fatalities.

Also, drivers whose nightly sleep averages 6 to 7 hours a night are almost twice as likely to be involved in car crashes as those who snooze for an extra hour. And you’ve surely heard about how lack of sleep is associated with many diseases from obesity to high blood pressure.

Even if you avoid sleep related bodily injury and the obvious financial penalties associated with them, you haven’t avoided financial mayhem.

Sleep debt is also associated with lower productivity, increased impatience and difficulty concentrating. None of these traits will help you pay off those student loans faster. And definitely save those important investment decisions for days when you’re well rested.

How can you tell if you’re running a sleep debt? It’s easy. If you’re sleepy in the day, particularly around 2:00 to 3:30pm, you need more or better sleep.

But Don’t Good Mattresses Cost A Lot?

So now it’s obvious to you that you need a great night’s sleep to boost your productivity and keep healthy. But one of the reasons that you don’t sleep very well is that you hate your bed. And every ad that you’ve seen lately screams that you need to ‘replace at eight’ and spend as much on a mattress as you would for a small used car.

The ads are wrong. Good sleep can be cheap. You don’t necessarily have to replace any mattress more than 8 years old. And you don’t have to take out another loan to be comfortable at night.

The proof is in the same October 2009 Consumer Reports mattress survey of 17,000 subscribers that catapulted the expensive Tempurpedic brand to a national obsession. They found that “any new mattress beats an old one.” And for those who said that they often had sleep problems, 78% said that any new bed improved their night’s rest.

The study also found that among problem sleepers, Tempurpedic (memory foam beds) and Select Comfort (adjustable air mattresses) provided the most relief. On the other hand, Spring Air and Sterns & Foster buyers (both are lower cost inner spring mattress brands) were in the 10% of the survey takers that said that their new mattresses made their situation worse.

But buying a Tempurpedic or Select Comfort bed is one way to increase your debt. They’re expensive! So…

How to Get Good Sleep Cheap?

Determine if you need a new bed or if a much less expensive mattress topper will work for you. There are two instances where you can get away with buying a topper. The first is if your bed’s not sagging more than a half an inch. The second is if your mattress is too firm.

In either case, go online and buy a topper that’s 2 to 3 inches thick. You should be able to find a queen size for under $200. Here’s some memory foam mattress topper reviews and quick advice on what to look for in a pad.

If you do need a new bed because your old one is worn, you will have to spend a bit more. Buying a used mattress is not recommended, particularly since bedbugs have made a big comeback in recent years.

So what are the best mattresses for your budget? We’ve already seen that the lower cost inner spring beds actually made some people’s sleep worse. And unfortunately with airbeds, you do get what you pay for. Inexpensive air mattresses leak and you could end up sleeping on the hard floor. That leaves memory foam mattresses as the best alternative for people looking for good cheap sleep.

The good news is that the ‘any new bed is better than the old one’ rule also applies here. Buyers of inexpensive memory foam beds are almost as happy as those who buy the pricey Tempurpedic brand. Better news is that good quality budget memory foam beds are very easy to find online. Just google “best mattresses under 500″ for reviews and recommendations.

Sleeping Smart Cuts Debt

Reduce both your sleep debt and financial debt by sleeping more and making better bed choices. And the side benefits are that you’ll also be more productive and have a better social life.

So what are you going to do today to shrink your sleep debt?

Bio: Nancy Ulrich writes for and is a local business consultant for web, mobile and social media marketing.