The Sleep Factor: Strategies for Getting More

Try these 10 tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Stress, anxiety and other factors can keep you from getting the sleep you need. Try these 10 tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.

It’s an issue that’s known to affect many survivors, no matter what type of cancer or treatment they have: difficulty sleeping.

If you are experiencing problems falling asleep, staying asleep or insomnia, be sure to contact your care team. They can help address underlying problems that can be keeping you awake.

A good night’s rest can help you think clearly, help your appetite and strengthen your immune system.

Studies have shown cognitive and behavioral therapies can reduce anxiety and worry, helping you relax. Consider these tips that could help you get more sleep:

  1. Stay on schedule: Be disciplined about when you go to sleep and wake up, even on holidays and weekends. This helps keep your sleep/wake cycle on track.

  2. Create a relaxing ritual: One hour before bedtime, start to unwind. Consider listening to calming music, reading or taking a bath before heading to bed. You may find deep breathing, meditation or prayer can also help you relax.

  3. Find your sleep oasis: Remove the television, dim the lights and turn off any background noise. Dark, quiet, cool and comfortable environments tend to help people sleep.

  4. Limit distractions: Only use your bed for sleep and sex, not to watch television, read or snack. This helps you better connect your bed to sleep in your mind.

  5. Stop watching the clock: If you’re not able to sleep after 20 minutes, do something relaxing until you are sleepy again to avoid anxiety. Further worrying about sleep will continue to keep you awake.

  6. Skip caffeine: Skip eating or drinking anything with caffeine four to six hours before you plan to go to sleep.

  7. Avoid alcohol: While a glass of beer or wine may make you drowsy at first, it can disrupt your sleep cycle and make you wake up before you are completely rested.

  8. Consider exercise: Exercising for at least 20 minutes a day can help promote better sleep. Be sure not to do it too close to bedtime, at least two hours before you to go bed. If you are currently receiving cancer treatment, discuss appropriate types and level of exercise with your care team.

  9. Limit naps: If you’re unable to sleep at night, try limiting naps during the day. Naps can disrupt your sleep/wake cycle and make it difficult to sleep at night.

  10. Take note: Keep a sleep log and note what’s keeping you awake. Be sure to include any anxieties or worries, as well as pain or discomfort that may be keeping you from relaxing. Based on these notes, your doctor can create a plan tailored to your needs.

If you’re struggling with sleep problems, the most important thing you can do is talk with your doctor to find causes and solutions for feeling more energized.