'Cancersomnia' - 13 tips for good sleep
Sleep affects everything. A lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep impacts heavily on the way we behave, our emotions, concentration, reaction times, our eating habits, our weight, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease and diabetes to name but a few. When we are faced with stress and anxiety, often our sleep is one of the first things to be affected.
During the Covid pandemic experts came up for a term for the lack of sleep ‘coronasomnia’ or ‘covid-somnia’. This of course can be made even worse if an individual has been diagnosed with cancer and so we've come up with the term 'cancersomnia'!
Statistics indicate that as many as 50% of patients with cancer have problems sleeping.
According to Cancer Research UK, “Things that can cause insomnia when you have cancer include:
Symptoms caused by the cancer (such as pain or sickness)
Side effects of treatment
Worry, anxiety or depression
If you often have insomnia or 'cancersomnia' it can interfere with everyday life. You may feel tired, have low energy, poor concentration, irritability and an inability to cope.”(1)
This begs the question, what can be done to help someone with a cancer diagnosis to get a good night’s sleep? Whilst we cannot remove the stress and anxiety that cancer brings with it, we have researched sleep hints and tips and have put together a list of 13 things which could help you get a better night's sleep.
Our tips for a better night's sleep. Try to…
Stick to a regular sleep schedule, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week.
Take at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. This is easier said than done with cancer so just do what you can when you can.
Get as much exposure to natural light as possible each day. Some people also find it helpful to use an LED daylight lamp.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid looking at a screen for at least two hours before going to sleep.
Try using a lavender sleep mask which will help to block out the light and other distractions to promote a restful sleep. Fragranced with the calming scent of lavender for additional comfort.
Take a warm bath or shower before bed as this will help to relax the mind and body. Our sleep well 3 step kit can help with this, it contains 3 products; bath oil, pillow spray and rollerball to help you to get some much needed sleep.
Avoid eating food shortly before going to sleep - chocolate is a definite food to avoid.
Try not to drink too much before bed as your night may be disrupted with a trip to the bathroom. Alcohol should definitely be avoided as it can affect sleep quality.
Try meditating or breathing exercises - see Oliver James' breathing exercises in our blog for help and support with this.
Minimise light and noise in the bedroom.
Lavender is an excellent essential oil to help with relaxation – this can be in the form of a pillow mist.
Keep a notebook next to your bed so that you can write down thoughts that are swimming in your mind, by writing them down you can address them another time.
Should you require any further information on how you can improve your sleep, please take a look at The Sleep Charity, a UK-based charity, empowering the nation to sleep better.
CancerPal has a wide range of products that have been recommended to help ease the stress and anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis.
If you'd like to find out more about how you can support a loved one with cancer, sign up to receive our Cancer Support Toolkit.