The progressive decline of the economy has been taking a physical and emotional toll on people across the country, according to a 2008 Stress in America survey released in October by the American Psychological Association. About half of the people polled said they are increasingly stressed about their ability to provide for their familys basic needs, and 80% say the economy is a significant source of stress (up from 66% in April). Women especially reported worries about money, job stability, housing costs, and health problems affecting their families.
Some people may be able to break this cycle by taking a step back: "Turn off the news and turn off your computer a couple of hours before bed," advises Dr. Esther. "We now have access to news 24 hours a day and we are certainly taking advantage of it. And this is a particularly difficult time because its been such a roller-coaster ride and everyone is just waiting, checking back constantly to see what will happen. It reminds me of what people went through right after 9/11, this sense of unknown anxiety."
If these tactics dont help after a few weeks of sleeplessness, see a doctor. "If patients come to me and say that they just cant get their mind off these problems, then its a perfectly appropriate time to use a sleep aid," Dr. Esther says. She doesnt often recommend over-the-counter medications (most include antihistamines and can leave people feeling drowsy or hungover the next day); instead, she might prescribe a few weeks' worth of prescription hypnotic medication to break a cycle of sleeplessness.