Good morning lovely, you!
Sleep must be on your list of things to improve as we climb the cancer healing mountain. Today we are going up higher and higher learning all about why you MUST get more sleep when you are fighting cancer.
I am sipping my steaming cup of tea, watching my little ZuZu taking her thirdnap of the day. And it’s only 9:00AM. If only all of us could sleep as peacefully as cats, we’d all feel much better.
Sleep is obviously important for everyone. But when you are fighting cancer, it is CRUCIAL to your recovery. In fact, studies have shown repeatedly that how well you sleep will determine how well your body is able to fight cancer.
But, while cancer patients are the ones who require the best sleep, they are often the very ones that have the hardest time getting that sleep. Why is this?
According to researchers from Stanford University sleep problems often occur when there is an imbalance of at least two hormones that influence cancer cells. One of these hormones is cortisol, which helps to regulate your immune system’s activity. This activity includes the release of certain “natural killer” cells that help you to fight cancer.
The cortisol levels in your body typically peak after dawn, after you have hopefully achieved 8 hours of sleep. These levels taper off throughout the day.
Studies have shown that shift workers and those people who wake repeatedly throughout the night have a greater chance of “shifted cortisol rhythm’ and therefore a greater risk of developing certain cancers.
The second hormone affected by sleep patterns is melatonin. Melatonin is produced by your brain during sleep. We think of melatonin as the chemical that helps us GET to sleep. While it does play an important role in our body clocks and sleep patterns, melatonin has been found to also exhibit powerful antioxidant properties that can help ward off cell damage.
A lack of sleep leads to a decrease in the production of melatonin, which makes it harder to get into a regular sleep cycle, which makes it harder to produce melatonin, which makes it harder to stay healthy… and the vicious cycle continues.
How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep when you are fighting Cancer
When it comes to cancer self-help, getting enough quality sleep should absolutely be a priority. And doing so can be fairly simple, if you allow yourself.
You see, many people fighting cancer take on a lot of guilt and worry. Not only are they worried about their own future, they are worried about the burden they are putting on their family.
I know all-too-well how our minds can keep us up all night. The dark thoughts that continuously flow through our mind are like little demons, mocking us and keeping us awake.
It’s important to manage your stress so you can get the quality sleep your body needs. I know it is not easy. Again, I have been EXACTLY where you are. I had to finally take control over my own mind so I could calm down enough to get to sleep and stay asleep. This required me to begin meditation.
Meditation is so incredibly powerful for multiple reasons. First, the very act of breathing deeply and stilling the mind brings an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility. You almost can’t help falling asleep when you feel this peaceful inside.
Second, meditation gets you in touch with a higher power. You can call that higher power God, the Universe, your higher self, angels… It doesn’t matter what human words you attach to it, what’s important is that you engage with this higher power. Once you become aware that there is a divine and loving creator in whose image you were created, then you know you yourself have the power to shape your world, your life and your destiny. This realization is powerful to say the least, and certainly calms down the anxious chatter many cancer patients experience at night.
Beyond getting your mind and stress under control, here are some other ways you can help yourself get a better night’s sleep:
Many cancer patients experience hot flashes and night sweats and need to make their environment as comfortable as possible. Keep the temperature in your bedroom low and choose bedding that keeps you cool and dry. Your body may also hurt all over, so you may need to get a better mattress.
Maintain a Sleep Routine
It’s important that you train your body to get on and stay on a sleep cycle. This means going to bed at the same time each night, even on weekends. Also, it’s a good idea to follow a pre-sleep routine each night that will help put your body and mind in the right mood. This can mean taking a warm bath, listening to calming music, meditating or reading.
Do NOT look at electronics before going to bed. The blue light emitted from electronics throws off your circadian rhythms.
Watch What You Eat
It’s best not to eat right before bed. Try and end eating 2 hours before bedtime and limit foods that may cause heartburn or indigestion. Even healthy fruits and veggies can cause excess acid, and laying down with this going on is not a great idea.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a good night’s sleep when you are fighting cancer. Your body needs sleep now to help you get well.
Sending light, love and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs