by Brittany McNabb
Many factors can make falling asleep and sleeping through the night tough. Disruption of sleep patterns can be frustrating and make fatigue from cancer treatment worse. A good night sleep has many benefits and can set the tone for the entire day. Here are some tips from WhatNexters on how to sleep through the night.
"I try to do all the practical stuff- turn off all electronics a few hours before bed, turn off my phone, stay away from sugar and alcohol, try not to eat a big meal late, and exercise early in the day. I also meditate daily and before bed." - lilymadeline
1. Talk to your doctor about trouble sleeping . As always, your doctor is your first go-to when you experience side effects or trouble during cancer treatment.
2. Make your bedroom "sleep friendly." You may be able to do this by blocking light from the room, wearing comfortable pajamas, getting the right pillows in place to support your body, and sleeping with the right weight of blanket. Some people with cancer get a noise machine to block out any noise that might disrupt them in the middle of the night or early morning.
3. Try sleeping with a fan. A fan can keep you cool, regulate air flow, and also drown out any excess noise.
4. Avoid screens before bedtime. Bright screens can stain your eyes and stimulate your brain making it harder to fall asleep. Try making at least 15 minutes before bedtime a "screen free" time. A TV can be an exception since it is farther from your eyes than a phone or tablet, especially if the TV helps you fall asleep. Use your discretion and experiment with what helps you. Reading can be another tool that might help you drift off to sleep.
5. Try not to take naps during the day. By avoiding naps during the day you may be more tired at bedtime. Sometimes naps can be unavoidable because of fatigue, but if you can work out a rising and bedtime schedule that may help.
Exercise to tire yourself out during the day. WhatNexters that implement exercise in their day have found that it is easier to sleep at night. This may not work for everyone but it is worth trying out an easy exercise plan or walking.
7. Learn how to relax. "Learning" how to relax might sound silly, but with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many people have forgotten how to relax. They are going and going through the day and then are not able to settle themselves at night. Learn what helps you relax at night. For example, breathing exercises, meditation, reading, stretching, listening to soothing music, and other similar activities may be beneficial.
"A number of years ago I was going through a very stressful period in my life and having serious sleep problems. I was given a series of relaxation exercises to do at bedtime every night. They were to relax various muscle groups as well as the whole body. Worked so well that most nights I was asleep before I completed the series. Perhaps your oncologist or urologist can help you find something like this." - Afterglow
8. Avoid eating at night or right before you go to bed. WebMD suggests that you don't eat anything in the hour before you go to bed. Eating late at night causes your stomach to continue to work making it harder to fall asleep.
9. Keep a sleep journal. A sleep journal may help you track sleep patterns and figure out what could be interfering with your sleep. It can also help when dialoguing with your doctor about the situation.
10. Master the art of "winding down. This will vary for everyone but it may help to create a "going to bed" routine to unwind. You will do the same things every night to prep your body for sleep. Just like some people like to come home from work, sit, and watch a little TV before going on with their night. find what helps you unwind before bedtime.
Sleeping problems can be frustrating, we have all been there. What have you found helps you sleep through the night? Any other suggestions?