Here’s Why You Can’t Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Life + Money

Here’s Why You Can’t Get a Good Night’s Sleep

...and how you can fix it.


It’s not your mattress.  It’s not your partner’s snoring. And it’s not the noisy neighbors. That would be too easy.

There are at least five reasons you toss and turn, wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, or otherwise pop an Ambien before you call your mother. You know you’ve had some of these fleeting, if not active thoughts in that twilight before you doze off.

  1. We’re all going to die of Ebola! Come on guys, the CDC has promised us that we have nothing to worry about. They’ve dismissed suggestions that Ebola could gain a foothold in the U.S. even though it’s killed over 5,000 people in Africa this year. After all, our borders are completely secure, our airports are like a vault in a few big city terminals, and infected people would never take a plane to, say, Toronto and then hop a train to New York. So relax! Go bowling — hop on a subway and don’t worry about a pandemic wiping out a huge portion of the population.

If you still can’t sleep…Cancel your trip to Disneyworld so you’re not locked in to a pressurized cabin with recirculated air at 35,000 feet with a bunch of strangers. And bring an extra pack of disposable Purell wipes.

Related: How to Protect Yourself from Ebola

2. I’m going to be killed by a terrorist! That would be true if you were Bashar Assad. Or if you were a Shiite, a Jew, or an American living in Iraq or Syria and trying to infiltrate ISIS to give intelligence to the CIA. But an American having lunch at Subway or standing in line at Chipotle is not a likely target. On the other hand, if you happen to see a lone wolf on the subway, and think to yourself, “My, what big teeth you have,” get off at the next stop and call the FBI or better yet, call the ASPCA.

If you still can’t sleep….

a.  Join the “Fear Itself” support group—there are thousands in the U.S., and find a buddy who’s more paranoid than you are. 

b. Do NOT Google “ISIS/graphics.” You may never have a sound sleep again.

c.  Stop blogging about how much you want to boil every terrorist in oil or cover them with fire ants until their flesh is eaten. What goes around comes around!

Related: The Merger of ISIS and al-Qaeda Could Cripple the Civilized World

3. I can’t plan for the future since global warming will destroy the planet. You’re right—global warming could destroy the planet if people like you stop planning for the future! The best way to get over this fear is to confront it by doing something about it. Also, unless a ginormous asteroid hits the earth and throws us off our axis, chances are it will take a century or so for New York or L.A. to become Atlantis. So feed your 401(k), separate your garbage, and decrease your carbon footprint.

If you still can’t sleep….

a. Join the Sierra Club or the National Resources Defense Council to commiserate with like-minded climate advocates.

b. Move to Europe and join the Green Party.

c. Go to Burning Man this year.

Related: Record Level of Greenhouse Gases Threaten Global Economy

4. I’m afraid my identity will be stolen—and with it all my money. OK. Here’s what you can definitely count on: Plan on being hacked multiple times—email, social networks, credit cards at Home Depot, etc., but the hackers don’t necessarily get past the firewall and into servers where the passwords are kept. That’s really hard to do. You can still have your signature ripped off just by sending a check to pay a bill and having some clerk digitally reproduce the checking account and the signature, and then making out a payment to herself.

So yes, you’re vulnerable no matter how you handle your money. The good news—double verification for email, passwords, and other digital access is becoming ubiquitous. Credit card RFID chips (like the ones used in Europe) are also being implemented. Some don’t fit in the “swipe” machines because the cards are thicker, so you’ll save money—even if you don’t want to. Businesses and banks are taking more precautions to protect customers and themselves from cyber parasites, too.

If you still can’t sleep….

a. Remember what it was like to stand on line at the bank to wait for a teller to deposit your paycheck.

b. Think back to holiday shopping at only brick and mortar stores and never buying online from Amazon with free shipping.

c. As an exercise, try booking a trip with a live travel agent. See how much time it takes.

Related: Runaway Identity Theft—Could You Be Next?

5. I’ll never be able to pay off my student loan. We all used to say that. We have grandchildren, we’re retired, and we’re still paying off our student loans. Think of it this way--student loans were designed to keep you young. Like an expensive spa treatment, student loans make you look and feel young by taking you back to your salad days. The days of total abandon—of drinking, partying, taking courses like “Wasting Time on the Internet” at Penn, and paying over $40,000 a year for a degree in the humanities that could get you a good job as a barista at Starbucks--will be with you forever, along with your student loan. So embrace it!

Related: How to Really Fix Our Student Debt Crisis

On your 50th birthday, when AARP asks you to join the senior set, throw a “Help Me Pay Off My Student Loan” party. Better yet, start a new site called "KICKENDER," a new crowdsourcing platform for loans that exceed three decades.  
If you still can’t sleep…. That’s ok. Who has time to sleep anyway when you need to work around the clock so you can pay the bills?

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