This post is close to my heart, as I am cancer fighter myself. When I started researching on how to help a cancer patient sleep, it was almost cathartic in the sense that I was also writing this for myself. The tips that I provide in this post are tips I have used for many years, but I wanted to make sure that what you receive is also backed by research.
Reasons Cancer Patients Need Good Sleep
· More Relaxed Mind
Brain anxiety can be really debilitating, especially when you are thinking of issues outside of your control. But by having a relaxed mind, you will decrease the tension you could be carrying around at this time.
Trying to get sleep at night already filled with many other thoughts, such as how our day went, but adding new worries to it only makes it more frustrated.
This frustration can lead to you weakening other defenses around you. Such tossing and turning at night can lead to poor decision making the next day.
Although it’s normal to have anxiety about issues, when you relax your mind, you let yourself fall asleep without being worried needlessly. This will help you make better choices regarding looking after your health.
Having a relaxed mind also leads to better reaction time to stressful situations.
· Full Responsive Immune System
When you get good sleep at night, your Immune system becomes fully responsive. The rest we get at night helps us build our immune system forces.
It is these forces that keep us healthy and defends us from outside invaders. Even if an invasion does take place, our system is so responsive that it can fight off almost anything.
When we get proper sleep, our body creates T cells. These are a type of white blood cells that are important for our immune system as well; they are our most potent creation leading to adaptive immunity.
“Our findings show that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of T cell responses, which is especially relevant in light of the high prevalence of sleep disorders and conditions characterized by impaired sleep, such as depression, chronic stress, aging, and shift work,” says last author Luciana Besedovsky. (Source: Science Daily)
The adaptive immunity is where the body’s response to invaders is created, which means an invasion can be stopped if our T cells have a chance to fully mature. This mostly happens during sleep.
Basically, your immune system relies on sleep to help fight any harmful infections!
· Your Body Repairs As You Sleep
Frankly speaking, sleeping gives your body a break from all it may be enduring during the day, especially when it comes to being ill. The body doesn’t have as much demand placed on it while you sleep as it does during the daytime.
When we sleep at night, it lowers our blood pressure, which then takes the pressure off our heart to help it relax. Our heart works pretty hard to keep us going, so it deserves that rest at night. Because our heart is relaxed, it helps to reduce inflammation because the blood is moving naturally through.
And since we are sleeping, our brain can attend to other issues, which, if not dealt with, can bring our health down. The brain will trigger a release of hormones to encourage the healing of body tissues and repair blood vessels.
The body during the prevention or recovery mode needs energy; this energy comes from sleep. Sleeping at night decreases how many calories we dispense, which then increases the energy we have during the day to fight or ward off illness.
3 Tips To Help A Cancer Patient Sleep
There are few ways to get quality sleep, but your sleep has to be paid attention to like you to anything which matters to you. It deserves the same care as you would give your child. Rest is our only repair mode that is an inherent inbuilt quality we have.
If we as humans could put it to proper use, imagine how much healthier people would be. But usually sleep is the last thing we pay attention to, myself included. There are times where I go to bed early, only to start watching YouTube, and then the time just flies by.
Exercise is essential, no matter how you feel. Healthy should be exercising every day. From personal experience, I know that exercise can be the last thing on your mind, but in the last few years, it has helped me so much.
Too much rest can lead to loss of body function, muscle weakness, and reduced range of motion. So today, many cancer care teams are urging their patients to be as physically active as possible during cancer treatment. Many people are learning about the advantages of being physically active after treatment, too. (Source: Cancer.org)
Knowing that exercise doesn’t mean having to go to the gym and lift weights makes it much easier to accomplish. I have a treadmill that I walk on for about an hour. But I also practice a couple of yoga poses, which are very relaxing.
2. Disengage From Daytime Happenings
From my fight with cancer, I know it can become a daily mind inhabiting thought of will I beat, or is it going to beat me. There were many nights where I would lay awake, wondering what my kids would do if I were no longer around.
One day about four years ago, I started incorporating my mental health counseling strategies into my thought process. It was like a light bulb went off; I was letting my daytime thoughts ruin my nightly rest.
Disengaging from daytime thoughts can be difficult, especially if your life is involved with a chronic disease. If you are anything like the old me, you are probably always thinking about a future that hasn’t even occurred.
These days I have learned how to turn my brain off for sleep. If you want to learn how to stop your brain from overthinking at night, then read my post on how to turn your brain off so you can sleep. Believe your body will thank you for paying attention to get the sleep you need so you can win the fight.
3. Choose Comfortable Bedding
At one time, many years ago, bedding wasn’t important to me, then I started chemo, and sweating became an issue. Not only that but finding a comfortable place to sleep after surgeries also became burdensome.
A hot flash is a sudden warm feeling over your face, neck, and chest that may cause you to sweat and your face to turn red. Sweating is your body’s way of lowering body temperature by causing heat loss through your skin. Hot flashes combined with sweats that happen while sleeping are often called night sweats or hot flushes. Hot flashes and night sweats are common in patients receiving cancer treatment. Some people continue to have hot flashes and night sweats after cancer treatment. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
Having the proper bedding can make or break your sleep. I know for me it made a difference in the type of mattress we use as well, making sure the environment around me was cool enough to sleep all night long.
Final Words On How To Help A Cancer Patient Sleep
Hopefully, now you understand that sleep is not only crucial to our mental well being, but it’s also essential for our body to be able to fight back disease or illness. Take up these advantages of getting enough sleep today so you will always be well.
Share in the comments below how you get enough sleep to ensure you are at your fighting best.
Reading is my favorite thing to do. But other than reading, I enjoy discovering new techniques on how to do something in simpler methods. My daughter likes to call me the Renaissance woman. So I do have to live up to the name.
One of my main issues is sleeping, so I’m always searching for new ways to get a good night sleep, I’m more than happy to share them with you.
My posts are either geared towards pain or self-help. Pain posts because I suffer from ongoing cancer pain. In the past 6 years of my fight with cancer, I have learned many ways to deal with pain, especially when going to bed.
The self-help posts come from my work as a mental health counselor for over 15+ years. My background in counseling training is from UFV and RRU. I also have personal trainer certification from IFA, so I might throw in some exercise posts as well.