TROUBLE SLEEPING FOR CANCER PATIENTS:
According to Gina Graci, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, cancer patients are three-times more likely to have a sleep disturbance than healthy individuals. She also says up to 90 percent of cancer patients have sleep disorders. The problem can be brought on by three factors. First, it can be the psychological upset. It can also be that the treatment brings on side effects such as fragmented sleep. Finally, Graci says, "It could be just the disease itself." Part of the problem is that patients may feel fatigue following treatment and are going to be more likely to want to take daytime naps, which ends up interfering with their nighttime sleep quality. Also, factors that did not affect sleep prior to their cancer diagnosis and treatment may affect them after the diagnosis.
WHY SLEEPLESSNESS IS SUCH A PROBLEM:
Graci explains, "Studies show if you're sleep deprived, it alters the immune response, which affects how your antigens, your immune system actually would attack cancer cells." If a cancer patient can sleep better, they are more likely to respond to treatment better. Their overall quality of life and emotional state are all likely to improve with better sleep quality.
13 SIMPLE RULES FOR CANCER PATIENTS TO SLEEP BETTER:
1. Keep a regular time for going to sleep and waking up (even on weekends).
2. Create a bedtime routine - quiet, calming activities.
3. Don't lie down for bed until sleepy.
4. If you don't fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, go in another room and engage in a quiet, non-stimulating activity until you're sleepy.
5. Use your bed for sleep and sex only.
6. Sleep just long enough.
7. Regular exercise during the day can deepen sleep. Exercise at least 4-6 hours before bedtime.
8. Have a light bedtime snack - avoid heavy foods.
9. Reduce noise and light.
10. Regulate room temperature.
11. Avoid stimulants, nicotine and food and drinks with caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime (includes chocolate, coffee and soda).
12. Avoid alcohol - helps you fall asleep but causes awakenings and poor sleep later.