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Sleep can be a Problem

Posted 2/22/2016

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  Sleep, or the lack thereof, can be a big problem. Full disclosure: I am a world-class sleeper and very, very rarely have any difficulties. When my first marriage was coming apart, I didn't sleep, and that was a big clue that I was in real trouble. Otherwise, I have been able to sleep through all of life's problems--and do know how fortunate that is. If you don't sleep, you can't function.

  Many people have long-standing sleep problems before a cancer diagnosis. Others didn't experience sleep as a real concern until diagnosis and find themselves staring into the darkness at 2 AM. Worry can keep you awake. Sadness can keep you awake. Pain and discomfort can keep you awake. The mental list of so many tasks can keep you awake. Drugs can surely keep you awake, including some (Decadron anyone?) that are commonly used as part of cancer treatment.

  If you are not sleeping, do mention it to your doctor. There are a number of medications that can help. I know, I know! You don't want to add another drug to your already overloaded system, and you worry about addiction. Those are certainly legitimate concerns, but you have to sleep. Getting through cancer is hard enough without adding exhaustion and the mental slowdown that accompanies it.

  Here is an excellent resource from the National Cancer Institute. I give you the start and a link:

Sleep Disorders (PDQ®)

General Information About Sleep Disorders


Getting enough sleep is needed for both physical and mental health.

Sleep has two main phases that repeat during the sleeping period. Sleep disorders affect normal sleep patterns. Getting enough sleep is needed for both physical and mental health. Sleep is an important part of physical and mental health. While we sleep, the brain and body do a number of important jobs that help us stay in good health and function at our best.

Getting the sleep we need:

  • Improves our ability to learn, remember, and solve problems.
  • Lowers blood pressure and gives the heart and blood vessels the rest they need.
  • Helps certain hormones control the following: Growth.
  • The repair of cells and tissues.
  • The immune system (to fight infection).
  • Blood sugar levels (which affect energy).
  • Appetite.

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