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Two owls sitting on a branch, one reading and one meditating while wearing a night cap

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Is getting enough sleep an issue for you? It is for me. At night, the distractions of the day aren’t there to defend me against my thoughts.

Making matters even worse, I have A.D.D. so my mind whirls with a myriad of random musings and, for the last 9 years, leukemia has been added to the mix. Geez.

It used to take me an hour or more to fall asleep. I still sometimes stay up later than I should just to get sleepy enough to go to bed. That, of course, is not the healthiest way to solve a sleeping problem.

Tips for getting a good sleep

But I have discovered ways to overcome all this and get some sleep. At least sometimes. I can’t say they always work but they do help. Here are a few ideas.

Meditation

You don’t have to sit in the corner with legs crossed chanting ‘Ohmmmmm.” Instead, find a place at home where you can sit quietly for a few minutes. Take deep, relaxing breaths and let the thoughts that haunt you drift away. Try to just focus on your breathing. Don’t fight the thoughts though. Let them come then just keep breathing and let them go.

Public speakers often take a few deep breaths to relax before going on stage. If that helps them beat stage fright, why shouldn’t it work when all you’re trying to do is get some sleep?

Relaxing sounds

I found a great app called TaoMix 2. It lets me arrange little round icons on my phone’s screen. Each represents a different sound effect. Then a ball bounces randomly through each one. I set up Ocean Waves, River, Wind, and Thunder. Surprisingly, it isn’t annoying at all. I’ve come to focus on the soft sounds instead of life’s worries.

Exercise

This is not one of my favorite things to do but when I manage to actually go to the gym or take a walk, I often find that sleep comes much easier. But don’t exercise just before bedtime; that definitely doesn’t work.

Eat well

If I don’t eat enough for dinner (a bad habit of mine) I usually wake up around 3 am starving and have to raid the fridge. That pretty much screws up my sleep for the night. You don’t have to eat a huge meal, just enough to tell your body you’ll survive until breakfast.

Read

I mean read the old fashioned way, you know, with a real book–the kind with paper and ink. Remember those? I believe, for some people at least, flooding bright light from a Kindle or iPhone into your eyeballs does more to fire your brain up than relaxing it. Hey, I bet a really boring book would knock you out in no time!

I hope this helps. Cancer and the other worries of life often plot against us. I’m sure there are many other ideas to overcome this problem. What ways do you use to fall asleep?

Share your tips in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • c.e.connely@gmail.com
    2 months ago

    Shortly after I was diagnosed with MDS in 2017, I went to my dentist for my six month check up. I learned that I had been grinding my teeth in my sleep. He made me a guard to wear at night. I guess I was acting out my anxieties in my sleep!

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @cconnely I can really relate to that. I’m a “grinder” too. My dentists made me a mouth guard but I’m too stubborn to wear it. The stupid thing keeps me awake which defeats any efforts to solve my insomnia problem. Oh well, I’m 67 so maybe I’ll wear out before my teeth do!

  • Pamela Kline moderator
    2 months ago

    @cconnely – Very fortunate timing that you saw your dentist shortly after your diagnosis during such a stressful time. Did the night guard help to stop the grinding? – Pam

  • c.e.connely@gmail.com
    2 months ago

    Yes, the night guard does help. I also stopped chewing gum, so I no longer have jaw pain.

  • Carole McCue
    2 months ago

    Thank you . These are excellent suggestions.
    Pleasant dreams Jim!!!

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @cmccue Thanks, Carole. One thing I neglected to admit… I often stay up way too late watching Netflix, which is ridiculous considering I could replay whatever I’m watching the next day. So sometimes my lack of sleep is caused by sheer stupidity.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    2 months ago

    Funny, I never had any issues falling asleep with everything happening. The problem has been getting up rather early with only a few hours sleep. Great suggestions though!

  • Denny
    2 months ago

    Hi Jim,Denny here hope everything is going good for you. I haven’t posted in awhile been busy at work but here i am. Go for 6 months check up July 24th gonna be told I’m Boring 🤞🏻. Gotta Bass club meeting tonite so I’ll check back.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @denny Hi Denny. I’d really like to know more about your Bass club and how the fishings going. It’s been a while since I’ve fished. Out here in the Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead are the big thing. It’s been so long though I don’t even know if I could bait a hook.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    2 months ago

    I have a tough time falling asleep too. It’s so frustrating! Usually I try to clear my mind and hope for the best.

  • Deb Wesloh moderator
    2 months ago

    Good advice. I have a terrible time with insomnia and then I really struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I used have insomnia before cancer but I could get away with not sleeping. I could still make it through the day. Now with polycythemia vera (PV) fatigue, I really have a hard time.

    I think a lot has to do with stress and being able to just relax. I am usually uncomfortable from the foot pain (unknown origin) and itching (PV issue) so that complicates things.

    I try to get a lot of exercise during the day so I’m really tired when I go to bed. But I try not to exercise too close to bed or I’m still wired and definitely can’t sleep then.

    I have also read that reading a book, as opposed to checking your FB posts or watching TV is better so I try to put my phone down and read a good book (although too good is problematic also because then I don’t want to put it down).

    I do take melatonin on occasion but I have to make sure I take it early enough otherwise I’m back to have issues getting up in the morning!

    Thanks.

  • Jim Smith moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @dbwes62 Getting to sleep can be a real challenge. I’m sorry it is particularly hard for you. But I see you are trying everything you can. I hope you find a really boring book that will put you to sleep after page one! Take care Deb. And “Good on ya”, as they say in Australia, for exercising. I come up short in that area.

  • amber.lynch moderator
    2 months ago

    I have trouble sleeping too. When I was going through chemo I was taking nausea meds that helped me sleep too. Now that I am, thankfully, finished with my treatments, I struggle with side effects keeping me awake. I frequently wake with neuropathy in my hands. I have found the app, Calm, to be helpful.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    1 month ago

    How does the app work?

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