Some Help With Sleep

Sleep issues are a common side effect of cancer. My daughter Crystal, who had Hodgkin lymphoma, had a lot of trouble sleeping.

Many causes of sleeplessness

The disease, as well as the treatment, can cause all kinds of issues in the body, leading to a lack of sleep or sleep that is not restorative.

After a treatment for her blood cancer, Crystal had headaches that kept her awake and she needed trips to the ER for rehydration. She would feel lethargic or have a lack of energy, which impacted her life.

Things to try for better sleep

It’s tough to do the things you want to do when you feel too worn out from lack of sleep. If experiencing sleep deprivation, it’s beneficial to share this with your doctor. They may be able to suggest helpful information or a medical treatment.

Crystal was given medicine for her headaches and,of course, the hydration helped. However, there may be a few things you can try on your own. Truthfully, who wants to take another drug if you don’t have to?

Diet - I know, I know, but…

First things first. Let’s start with your diet. Crystal ate well when she could eat, but she was pretty sick after her treatments. Most people already know to eat lots of f fruits and vegetables, cut out sugars and processed foods, and drink plenty of water. That was mostly what she did, but did you know you should stop eating this nutritious food at least 2 hours before bed? Eating too close to bedtime interrupts your sleep and you may get indigestion or acid reflux. Here’s another thing that may be surprising - don’t go to bed hungry. If you didn’t have a chance to eat a proper meal, then have a light snack like a piece of fruit, but that’s it. Also, if you drink too close to bedtime - well, you know what happens? Getting up frequently during the night for potty breaks will cause sleep disturbances and is one more thing that can leave you feeling tired the next day.

Make a schedule and have a ritual

The next thing to consider is a schedule for waking and sleeping. When Crystal was in treatment we didn’t know this, but having a schedule helps your body to know it’s time for sleep and time to wake. Make a routine of stretching, reading, or showering before bed. Crystal always brushed her teeth. Even small steps will help. Rituals tell your brain to get ready because sleep is coming soon. And get up at the same time each morning. Hopefully, doing this will help you to sleep better.

Put away the electronics

Do not use electronics close to bedtime. The problem is that blue light causes our brains to think it’s daytime. Put your electronics away at least 2 hours before bed. Blue-blocking glasses may help, but unplugging is best. And don’t forget to turn off your TV or set a sleep timer. Dark, silent nights are best for quality sleep.

Sunshine and exercise - what a pair!

As often as possible, Crystal would enjoy her morning coffee outside. Being out early in the day helps your brain to wake up and sets your internal clock. While you’re outside take a short walk. This may be hard at first. After all, you may be feeling tired, but if you can muster up the energy it will be beneficial and will help you sleep better. You might even find that it gives you more energy during the day. Exercise and sunlight are wonderful for your body. Crystal tried to take a short walk when she could, which always helped her feel better.

A space to rest and relax

Turn your bedroom into an oasis for rest and sleep. That includes making your bed in the morning, having a comfortable temperature in the room - about 65 degrees, trying to keep your room clean, and not eating, drinking, working, or using your electronics there. Lastly, keep your room dark. Help your brain to know that the bedroom is for sleeping - and maybe one other thing, LOL. But seriously, know this is your sanctuary and your place for restoration. I used to make sure Crystal had clean sheets on her bed before she went for treatment and again about a week later. It helped her to feel comfortable and hopefully sleep a bit better.

Stay in touch

Feeling fatigue may isolate you from others. After all, who wants to socialize when you are not feeling your best? Even if you don’t want to, try to go out and meet up with others as often as possible. There will be days you feel as though you can’t get out. When that happens, call someone. Being tired all the time can be depressing. Keeping in touch with friends or family might be just the thing you need to brighten your day. This was a tough area for Crystal because we all had to work and she moved away from her friends. Of course, she got through it, but having a support system makes it easier.

I hope some of these ideas will be useful. If you have any tips that have helped you, please share them.

Which tip will be the most helpful?

Wishing you health and happiness

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