Tips to get better night sleep

     Sleep hygiene guidelines

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Disruption of a normal sleep pattern is common after a diagnosis of cancer. There are a lot of things to worry about, the diagnosis, the treatment, how you will feel, financial and family issues and it is normal to wake up thinking about them at night. If this is associated with depressive thoughts, particularly waking in  the early hours and is persistent it may be worth talking to your GP as this as it may be signs of early depression. Apart from anxiety there are also several reasons why sleeplessness may be a problem during cancer therapies and these may be amenable to specific strategies or medication:

Sleep Hygiene Guidelines

  • Discontinuing or reduce the use of caffeine (tea, coffee, energy drinks)  after 4pm and preferably after 2pm. If this does not help, try cutting coffee altogether.

  • Alcohol may make you initially sleepy but often you then have a restless night waking throughout the night -try giving up for 2 weeks to see if this helps

  • Nicotine is a stimulant which can keep you awake so avoid smoking at night. 

  • Heavy smokers actually suffer withdrawal of nicotine at night so they wake up anxious and alert

  • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquids prior to bedtime - it fills the stomach and causes you to have to pass water often

  • Avoid hunger or excessive eating prior to bedtime

  • Avoid taking daytime naps unless essential.

  • Establish a regular pattern of sleeping - set a time to go to bed & when to wake up.

  • Sleep only as much as you need to feel rested.

  • Go to bed only when you are sleepy

  • If you are unable to fall asleep within 20 - 30 minutes leave the bed and perform a relaxing activity until drowsy and ready for sleep (avoid light - see below).

  • It is important not to expose yourself to bright or artificial lights at night even from smart phones or computers. This interferes with the melatonin pathway - the body thinking it's day time - this not only disturbs sleep but if you have regular exposure to light at night it upsets the normal circadian rhythm. Studies have linked night time exposure to light to an increased risk of cancer

  • Exercise regularly but do not exercise within 2 hours of bedtime.

  • Engage in a quiet relaxing activity before bedtime

  • Do not watch exciting TV programs or read stimulating books in bed last thing at - read something boring!

  • Avoid temperature extremes, noise and light when in beds

  • Ensure room is dark - use black out curtains if necessary

  • Try to ensure the room is quite - wear ear plugs if necessary

Helpful resources and links

Cancernet-UK: What is cancerAbout specific cancers; Breast | Prostate | Bowel.  About cancer treatments; Chemotherapy | Radiotherapy | Hormones | Biological agents | Complementary.  Lifestyle advice; Exercise | Diet | Smoking | Sunbathing | Alcohol.  Cope with symptomsTraveling | Insurance  | Tests for cancer | Clinical trials. ...site map
Micro-nutrient testing Empower yourself to make dietary choices specific to your personal make up. This Cancer Risk Nutritional Profile, analyses your blood profile and recommends specific dietary and supplement advice to ensure you have the best possible nutritional status to fight cancer an aid recovery from treatments....read more
Download a free chapter describing how to avoid cancer forming chemicals (Carcinogens) in our diet and environments  from the new edition of the best selling evidence based book    "Lifestyle after Cancer - the facts"
Protect your lips during chemotherapy There is evidence that natural oil based creams are better than petroleum based creams. natureMedical lip balm has been specifically design to soothe and moisturise the lips during and after chemotherapy or after sun exposure. It only contains only natural waxes and essential oils selected for their anti-inflammatory and DNA stabilizing properties...read more/order
Protect your nails during chemotherapy. Nails can become painful and disfigured during and after chemotherapy. We describe the latest nail care guidelines and  number of useful tips to keep them healthy, including cooling and moisturizing ...read more 
Keep-healthy.com Practical evidence based advice on healthy living including ways to naturally reduce cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, keep healthy eyesight, hearing, maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness. Includes advice on supplements and other useful products...link
Support groups and self help organisations throughout the UK and internationally. Links to Asian support organisations; Read patient stories, poems and links to the Cancer active website addressing a wide range of complementary issues related to cancer and their a quarterly magazine (ICON)..  submit a link to your group

Lifestyle tips Aide gut health Micronutrient tests Protect nails
 
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