By: Scott Sanders
When you’re in the midst of cancer treatment, healthful, restorative sleep is crucial for your well-being. Not only does slumber help you physically, it’s a key to your mental wellness. Here’s how to ensure you get the sleep you need without resorting to prescription medications.
The world we live in can lead you to believe sleep is a waste of time, especially since you don’t appear to be accomplishing anything while snoozing. However, sleep is necessary for healingthe body and mind. Your body appears to go through a restoration process while you sleep, helping you recover from the previous day’s events and preparing you for the next morning. Your bones, skin, and even your brain don’t manage as well when you try to go with insufficient sleep, and on top of that, your immune function is reduced. It’s also a strain on heart health, more difficult to stay at a healthy weight, and your liver can be stressed, creating a situation where your body can struggle to detoxify itself.
US News points out sleep is linked with how our bodies regulate cell growth, which makes some scientists all the more inclined to encourage cancer patients toward full nights of high-quality sleep. Unfortunately, some research indicates many patients face sleep deprivationin conjunction with cancer treatment. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to improve your slumber, and snag those much-needed z’s.
Ensuring your bedroom is conducive to a good night’s sleep is a great starting point. Begin with the general atmosphere of the room. Is it cool and comfortable? Some experts feel the optimal sleep temperatureis around 65 degrees, and you should adjust your thermostat accordingly. A dark room is also helpful, so consider installing appropriate window treatments. Having clean, refreshing air can boost sleep quality as well, especially if you have allergies or asthma. Check that your air filters are changed routinely to maintain good in-home air quality, and use filters designed to help clear your air of allergens; filters with a MERV rating of at least 11are recommended in order to reduce 95 percent of the airborne debris, like mold spores and pet dander, that threaten your sleep and overall health.
Catch some sunshine
A dark, cool, comfortable room can help you sleep at night, and the other side of that coin is enjoying sunlight in the daytime can help keep your body rhythm on track. Getting some sunshine, especially in the morning hours, can improve your sleep by regulating serotonin and cortisol release, encouraging your body to wind down come nighttime. It’s an opportunity to boost your vitamin D production as well, which some studies indicate can contribute to better sleep at night. What’s more, Stanford Medicine notes a littlegreen spaceappears to go a long way toward improving sleep, so consider spending time in the morning sitting on your porch and admiring the trees, taking a stroll through the neighborhood with your dog, or settling onto a park bench and feeding the birds.
Find a healthy routine
Sunlight is just one facet of triggering your body toward a healthy sleep cycle. You can also help set your body’s clock much in the way you would for a child, by embracing a set sleep schedule. Most people do best with 7 to 9 hours of sleep, although depending on your situation and biological makeup, you may need to break it into routine nap sessions. Some people find a single sleep session of a few hours offset by several naps through the day fits best, and some people benefit from planning several napping periods over the course of 24 hours.
Whatever schedule fits, a bedtime routine can encourage your mind and body to relax. For instance, try doing some meditation exercises, listening to restful music, or sipping some herbal tea. There are soothing poemsyou can read, or if you need to express yourself, consider journaling. By doing the same thing at the same time on your chosen schedule, it’s a signal to your body and mind that sleep is coming.
When you’re in cancer treatment, sufficient slumber is vital. Evaluate your environment, spend time in the sun, and embrace a healthy routine. Your mind and body need to heal, and sleep can help.