STRESS MESS IN U.S. 48% CAN'T SLEEP
October 25, 2007 -- We're stressed out, we can't sleep, we're drinking too much - and it's getting worse.
Forty-eight percent of Americans say they're more stressed now than they were five years ago, and the same percent report regularly lying awake at night because of stress, according to a new study by the American Psychological Association.
"Stress continues to escalate, and it's affecting every area of people's lives," said Russ Newman, a psychologist and executive director of the APA.
So what is it we're worrying about while we stare at the ceiling all night? Primarily two things: money and work, the main woes for nearly 75 percent of Americans. That's way up from 59 percent of us stressed out over those two things a year ago.
We're also worrying about making the rent. More than half of people polled say paying the landlord or making the monthly mortgage causes great stress.
The APA study was conducted online and involved interviews with 1,848 Americans nationwide.
According to the report, all that stress and worry is taking a big toll on our lives, leading us to fight with family members, drink, smoke and give up on working out.
"The high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease," Newman said.
The study found that as a result of stress, 54 percent of people have fought with loved ones, and 8 percent say stress has led to separation or divorce.
More than three-quarters of respondents say stress is making them sick, from headaches (44 percent) to upset stomach (34 percent) and grinding their teeth (17 percent).
And then there's the not-so-healthy ways people try to handle all that stress, from eating junk food to tipping the bottle. Forty-three percent claim they eat - or overeat - unhealthy food to deal with stress, while a third say they lose their appetite and start skipping meals.
Drinkers and smokers report downing more booze and lighting up more often when feeling the effects of stress.
"Some people feel overwhelmed and out of control," said Beverly Thorn, a University of Alabama psychologist who was one of the researchers involved in the study.
Thorn explains that people turn to bad habits when under stress - and that often makes them feel even worse. "It's a vicious cycle," she said.
But it's not all bad news.
More than half of Americans listen to music, read, or exercise as a way to alleviate stress. Others spend time with family and friends. More than a third say they pray when stressed out.
STRESS MESS IN U.S.