There’s the Wage Gap, and Then There’s the Sleep Gap

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More than half of men say worrying about money costs them sleep. Nearly 70 percent of women say the same.

That gap increased eight percentage points over the past year, according to a new survey by It makes sense, since women really do have more to worry about when it comes to money. Lower earnings means less in savings and Social Security benefits to fund longer lifespans.

“In general, people tend to lose sleep over things that feel out of their control,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for, part of the Bankrate Online Network. To him, the findings suggest you should “do whatever you can to take more control of your financial situation, whether it’s just learning more, being more involved in your family’s financial decisions, or starting a side gig.”

The survey asked whether saving for retirement, paying for education, paying health-care or insurance bills, making the monthly rent or mortgage, and paying credit card debt were keeping people up at night.  The poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, took a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults.

The biggest fear cutting into a good night’s sleep is not having saved enough for retirement. The gender gap is narrower here than overall — 44 percent of women vs. 35 percent of men. All together, some 56 percent of men are losing sleep over money, compared with the 70 percent finding for women. In 2010, women received $12,000, on average, in Social Security benefits, a third less than a man’s average benefit of $17,856. At age 65 and older, women were 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished, according to a study by the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Yet you can see worrying about retirement savings as a luxury, in a way, if it means you can meet your monthly bills. That’s the most common sleep-stealing worry for people 30 or older with a college degree and an annual household income of $75,000 or more. Heath-care and insurance bills are the second-biggest sleep killer for women. For men, it’s educational expenses. Those are a particular worry for millennials; 45 percent of people between ages 18 and 29 rank them as their worst anxiety. Among respondents between 30 and 49, a third said they lose sleep over educational costs. One of them is’s Schulz, who is 44 and has a son headed to college in about a decade. “In five years,” he said, “you could see educational expenses being No. 1, or very close to No. 1, when we do this survey again.”

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