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Money saving tips to help you sleep at night

SunLife Content Team

Last updated 22nd June 2023

4 min read

As the cost of living rises, more and more people are finding themselves consumed by money worries.

In April 2022, we surveyed 1,000 UK adults from all over the country to find out what worries are keeping them up at night – and money worries were top of the list.

We’ve compiled our findings to show the main worries keeping people up, the things that help them get back to sleep, and some of the easiest ways to cut back on spending.

How our sleeping patterns change with age

According to our research, over a third (37%) of people over 50 consider themselves to be sleep deprived. And 39% said their sleep was interrupted, even if they slept for the recommended amount of time.

Sleep is an integral part of our life. Whether you’re clocking a full eight hours every night or napping throughout the day, everyone’s sleeping patterns can look a little different.

So, why is this? Our ‘circadian rhythms’ influence our daily cycles, like when we get hungry, release certain hormones, and feel sleepy or alert. As we age, these rhythms change, causing a shift in routine.

So, it’s common for people over 50 to experience changes in the quality and duration of their sleep – and external factors (like stress) can play a part in this.

When asked to select which sleeping patterns changed with age, 66% of people over 50 said repeatedly waking up during the night. This was followed by restlessness (48%) and snoring (36%).

Waking up in the night can be caused by lots of things. It could be from drinking caffeine late in the day, a poor sleep environment, a sleep disorder, or another health condition.

In general, adults need around seven to nine( opens in a new tab) hours of sleep a night for the best health and wellbeing.

The money worries keeping us up at night

So, what exactly is it that has people over 50 tossing and turning at night?

31% of over 50s say that physical health issues are preventing them from falling asleep at night.

But money worries are causing the biggest loss of sleep. More than 41% of people over 50 say financial concerns keep them up at night.

When asked what money worries are most likely to wake them up or keep them awake at night, energy bills take up 52% of over 50s’ downtime. This was followed by food prices (37%) and low disposable income (31%).

What money worries bother people over 50 when trying to sleep? %
Energy bills 52%
Food prices 37%
Low disposable income 31%
Petrol prices 27%
Low savings 24%
House/rent prices 23%
Debt 18%
Other 16%
Emergency costs 16%
Pension/retirement funds 16%
Money scams 10%
Spending habits 8%
Inheritance/funeral costs 5%
Care costs 5%

What helps us sleep at night?

Winding down before bed is essential for a good night’s sleep. Whether that’s a cup of herbal tea, a bath, or playing white noise, we all have our own ways of relaxing before bed.

Our study revealed that 42% of people over 50 find reading before bed helps them get a better night's sleep, whilst two in five (39%) need full darkness and a quarter (25%) pay attention to their caffeine intake to help them clock their eight hours.

What helps over 50s get to sleep at night? %
Reading 42%
Full darkness 39%
Less caffeine 25%
Listening to podcasts/music 21%
Sleeping without anything on 20%
Exercise throughout the day 17%
A warm drink 16%
Avoiding screens 16%
TV on 16%
Sleeping with pyjamas on 16%
Sex 15%
Bath before bed 14%
Background noise 12%
Meditating 11%
Sleeping with a pet 8%
Other 8%
Scented sleep/de-stress sprays 7%
Fan on 7%
Eating a particular food 3%

If you're still struggling to sleep, the NHS recommend the following tips to help you sleep( opens in a new tab).

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Relax at least one hour before bed. For example, take a bath or read a book
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet – use curtains, blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs if needed
  • Exercise regularly during the day
  • Make sure your mattress, pillows and covers are comfortable

Top money-saving tips for a better night's sleep

If money worries are keeping you up at night, these money-saving tips can help...


Drawing up a budget is a great way to plan your money. By keeping tabs on exactly how much you’re spending, it’s easy to make sure you’re not wasting money.

Make sure to factor in yearly expenses, not just monthly ones. This way, things like road tax and insurance policies won’t feel like they’ve come out of the blue.

Once you have a clear budget, hopefully you’ll have money left over each month, which you can put aside into a savings account.

Easy ways to cut back on your spending

According to our research, almost 1 in 12 over 50s worry about their spending habits.

With the cost of living only increasing, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your spending, so you’re not left feeling cut short...

1. Be mindful of your appliances

Nearly 20% of over 50s are concerned about their energy bills. So, what are the ways we can cut back on costs whilst prices increase?

Leaving household appliances on standby uses electricity and costs money. So, turn off your dishwasher, microwave, toaster and television at the plug to save money.

And try to choose the right appliances for your needs. For example, if there’s just the two of you living in the house, you may not need a family-sized fridge freezer, which can be costly to run.

2. Rotate your streaming subscriptions

If you're paying for multiple streaming services, the cost of them all can really add up.

If you find you’re only watching one or two shows on each platform per week, you’re not really getting your money’s worth. But if you rotate your subscriptions, you can avoid paying for every service each month.

All you need to do is pause or cancel your subscriptions when you’ve finished watching all the programmes you’re interested in.

This does take a bit of organisation, but can save you money in the long run.

3. Sell unwanted clothes or items

If you’re looking to downsize your wardrobe or home, there are lots of second-hand apps and websites that let you easily sell unwanted clothes, furniture and other items.

Facebook Marketplace( opens in a new tab), Vinted( opens in a new tab) and Depop( opens in a new tab) are all great places to get started. Although you'll likely have to price things relatively low to get them to sell.

4. Loyalty cards

Supermarkets, pharmacies and high-street shops offer countless savings across their stores.

If you regularly visit certain shops, look into their loyalty reward card schemes to make the most of any discounts or deals they might offer.

5. Consider equity release

If you’re looking for a nest egg to spend during your retirement, but don’t want to move house or downsize, you could consider equity release.

This is a loan secured against your home, which is only repaid when you die or move into permanent care.

SunLife has a simple guide that explains how equity release works and the types of schemes available.

If you meet certain criteria, you may be surprised at how much equity you could release. If that’s the case, you could use the money to top up your retirement income.

Equity release isn’t right for everyone, though, so it’s important to get financial advice to help you make the right decision.

Make the most of your money in retirement

Over 15% of people over 50 find themselves worrying about their pension and retirement funds in the middle of the night.

If you’re worried about your retirement savings, why not read our guide to retirement and our top tips on making extra money in later life.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.