Dealing with Sleep Issues During Treatment

March 23, 2018 | by City of Hope

Sleep often gets relegated to the bottom of the healthy habits checklist. Rather than seeing shut-eye as an important component of well-being, it gets short-changed.
If you’re combatting cancer, sleep can be even more challenging. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), “While sleep disorders affect a small number of healthy people, as many as half of patients with cancer have problems sleeping. The sleep disorders most likely to affect patients with cancer are insomnia and an abnormal sleep-wake cycle.”
Turns out, a good night’s sleep reaps many rewards, including possibly helping to stave off cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Better sleep can be had. Here are three tactics that can lead to solid slumber.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Perhaps the most impactful of sleep-inducing behaviors is adhering to a sleep schedule. Per the National Sleep Foundation, sleep routines “regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.” Important to keep in mind: A sleep schedule should be adhered to both on weekdays and weekends.
Wind-down Rituals
To make circadian rhythms happy, turn off computer monitors, cell phones and tablets two to three hours prior to hitting the hay. According to the Harvard Health Letter, studies have shown that blue wavelengths emitted by these device screens are beneficial during daylight hours by boosting attention, reaction times and mood. At night, the same blue wavelengths suppress the secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, skewing biological clocks.
Can’t tear away? Many electronics now have light filters that can be programmed to dim at a certain hour. Also, scan for errant light in the bedroom. Cable box and alarm clock displays can easily be blocked with Post-its.
Say No to Nightcaps
To achieve sounder sleep, the American Cancer Society recommends avoiding caffeine six to eight hours prior to bedtime. Skipping alcohol is also suggested as its consumption and “wearing off time” can waylay sleep. Instead, sip warm, decaffeinated drinks, such as herbal tea or milk before to heading to bed.
Use these three strategies for improving sleep, and soon, counting sheep will be a thing of the past.

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