Worried and losing sleep over rising gas prices? – Practical tips to save money and sleep better
By Jason Wooden, PhD | August 29, 2023
With out of control inflation, it’s no surprise worried consumers are losing sleep over rising gas prices and other major living expenses. If you’re not careful, over time it can also take a toll on your body and mental health. Fortunately, there are plenty of practical things you can do to save money on gas and sleep better at night.
What’s really at stake when you can’t sleep because you’re worried about gas prices going up…
It goes without saying you’re not the only one losing sleep because you’re worried about gas prices going up.
Just yesterday, I got a bit of sticker shock when I paid almost $60 to gas up our family car and realized pre-Covid I could do it for half as much.
Search online and you’ll find plenty of people in forums fretting over rising gas expenses and inflation.
Whether it’s a personal car or a business vehicle, it’s costing you more than you ever thought to keep it running.
So, it’s totally understandable if gas prices have got you stressed to the point it’s starting to disturb your sleep.
Especially since gas prices aren’t the only thing going up…
On the other hand, over stressing over something can sometimes actually make things worse.
First off, stress and anxiety are two of the BIGGEST sleep killers. It’s hard to drift off to sleep when your mind is racing.
Secondly, ongoing stress over time can take a toll on the body and your mental health. We’re talking headaches, digestive problems, ulcers, weight gain, muscle tension and pain, and an increased risk for things like heart disease.
And finally, it’s not really solving the problem. Otherwise, you we could worry things away.
(At least that’s never worked for me..)
Since there’s already enough things in life to worry about, let’s take a look at what you can actually do about those crazy gas prices and to sleep better at night.
Tip 1: Keep things in perspective
Let’s be honest and state the obvious.
Unless you are an oil producer or a big commodities trading company, you have little control over the global oil market…
And little control over the price of gas at the pump.
The price of gas is going to go up and sometimes it’s going to go down.
All we really control is what we do to make the best of things.
And again, stress and worry is not going to solve the problem.
It is what it is.
On the other hand, focusing on the things you control can make a BIG difference. It can free up your mind to the work creatively on the problem.
Also, there’s a peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re doing the best you can.
Speaking of which, let’s now look at some ways you can reduce your monthly gas bill.
Tip 2: Do whatever you can to save money on gas
While we all bargain shop for the cheapest gas in town, it turns out there’s quite a bit more we can do to save money on gas so we worry less and sleep better at night:
2) Gas cards and rewards programs
Many gas rewards programs allow you to rack up points and earn gas discounts.
3) Pay with cash
Some gas stations will charge you less if you forgo the credit card.
4) Check your tire pressure
According to the US Dept of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by as much as 3% if you keep your car tires at proper air pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.
5) Drive the speed limit
Gas mileage usually decreases at speeds above 50 miles per hour. When you speed, you increase fuel consumption and decrease fuel economy.
Studies have found that aggressive driving can lower gas mileage 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.
6) Avoid idling and wasting gas
Depending on your specific car, idling can waste up to ½ gallon of fuel per hour.
7) Avoid driving during peak traffic periods
Sitting in stop-n-go traffic or traffic lights can kill your gas mileage pretty quick. If possible, time your commute and errands to avoid peak periods.
8) Use the right gas!
Since some engines are not designed to run on higher octane gas, you may see a loss in fuel economy and performance if you don’t use the manufacturer recommended fuel.
9) Shed some pounds
Whether it’s miscellaneous boxes or something strapped to your car, getting rid of unneeded items can help you save some money on gas. According to the EPA, an extra 100 pounds of weight can lower your gas mileage by roughly 1%.
10) Combine trips
Going back and forth to the same place is one sure way to waste gas. With a little planning, you can combine errands to get everything you need done when driving to a geographic area.
11) Get a tune-up
Regular service and oil changes will help keep your car running as efficiently as possible. Dirty fuel filters, leaking hoses, and an improperly functioning fuel injection system can cost you big time at the pump.
Ditto if your car is running on old or incorrect engine oil.
12) Look for alternatives to driving on your own
When possible, consider alternative ways to get to where you’re going whether it’s public transportation, carpooling, riding a bike, or walking.
13) Get on a monthly budget and adjust as needed
A big reason many of us are worried is because of the strain gas expenses is putting on our wallet.
If you haven’t already, getting on a detailed budget is a good idea for multiple reasons. Besides knowing where your money is going, it will show where you can cut unnecessary expenses as you adjust to gas price changes.
Tip 3: Get the best possible sleep you can
Now that we’ve talked about practical money saving options, let’s take a look at what else you can do if worries about gas prices going up is intruding on your sleep.
The good news is that there are plenty of practical things you can do for more restful nights:
1) Improve your sleep hygiene
Why make sleep even harder than it has to be? Make sure you’re following the rules for healthy sleep, aka sleep hygiene. It’s the everyday habits that can make or break sleep.
For better sleep, you should:
- keep regular wake up and sleep times
- avoid naps
- exercise during the day
- avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine
- before bedtime
- maintain a bedtime routine that prepares you for sleep
- keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool
- avoid electronics use in the bedroom
2) Go on a media diet
A steady diet of breaking news can leave you wired up and feeling hopeless. So much of it is bad and out of your control.
Trying unplugging (or at least cutting back) on your news feeds from TV, Facebook, and Twitter.
And be sure to avoid the news in the hours before you go to bed.
Did you know physical activity triggers the release of endorphins and other chemicals that improve mood? It’s great for stress, anxiety, and depression.
Also, studies have shown that physical activity can help people fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and sleep longer.
So, do something physical everyday whether it’s a walk at the park, swimming at the pool, a bike ride around the neighborhood, or just dancing to your favorite music.
5) Find some sleep-friendly ways to pass the time
When you’re struggling to fall asleep, it’s important to avoid doing anything that will get you more wired up and make the transition to sleep even harder. Find some sleep-friendly things to do for those nights you can’t sleep because you’re worried about retirement.
It could be light reading, working on a puzzle, or listening to quiet music.
7) Natural relaxation aids
There’s a wide variety of natural aids for sleep that work by fighting stress and anxiety:
Chamomile – Extracts made from dried flowers of the chamomile plant have been shown to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Lavender Essential Oils – Extracts prepared from the flowers of the plant are used in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Valerian root extracts – Has been shown in studies to help fight anxiety and promote relaxation.
Ashwagandha – One of the most powerful herbs used in Ayurvedic healing, it’s thought to work as a moderator of the body’s response to stress. The root and berry are used to reduce anxiety and calm the body.
CBD oil – so far, looking promising for anxiety in studies. CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from the hemp plant which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. Unlike marijuana, it does not contain the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which causes a “high.”
Before trying out a natural remedy, it’s recommended that you check with a complementary health specialist about whether it’s right for you, possible side effects, and the best way to use it.
8) Sleep meds
As a short-term remedy, your doctor may recommend an over the counter or prescription sleep med to help you get your sleep back on track.
Keep in mind sleeping pills are not the first choice for treating ongoing insomnia due to side effects such as dependency. They may also stop working as the body builds up a tolerance to them.
9) Get a check up
When was the last time you had a checkup? Too many people are unaware how many other health issues can cause problems or worsen sleep.
On the list are things like asthma, allergies, acid reflux and heartburn, heart issues, chronic pain, and diabetes. Even some prescription drugs can affect sleep.
And you may also be living with an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
If for some reason you’re worried about gas prices, losing sleep, and it’s really got you feeling down, it’s definitely worth having a chat with someone.
There’s a vicious link between stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep. If you’re not careful, you can get into a downward spiral where one causes more of the other.
It turns out a type of counseling know as cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be helpful for both anxiety and depression.
The Effects of Cortisol on Your Sleep, 2020, Psychology Today website (source)
How stress affects your health, 2022, American Psychological Association (source)
Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape, Oak Ridge National Laboratory website (source)
Idling: Why It’s a Problem and What You Can Do, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Fact Sheet (source)
What to Do If You Put the Wrong Fuel in Your Vehicle, Direct Auto Insurance website (source)
CARFAX: save gas & money through maintenance, 2022, PR Newswire (source)
“Exercise and Insomnia”, 2020, sleepfoundation.org (source)
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