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Posted 3/28/2016

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  The more we know about sleep, the more that we realize how very important it is. Without enough sleep, we cannot function. Personally, I am a world class sleeper and have only had sleep troubles once in my life--during the final months of my first marriage. Since then, I have slept through every other life crisis, and those hours in bed have surely helped me during difficult days. Many people never sleep very well, and many more experience sleep difficulties during cancer.

  The early days after diagnosis are a crisis, and lots of people can't sleep. You may be awake at night worrying and crying and being frightened of what you know and what you don't yet know. The darkness makes everything worse, and those sleepless hours then doom you to a difficult next day. Once treatment begins, there can be other reasons for poor sleep: medications that keep you up (steroids, often used for a few days of nausea control after chemo, are famous for this), pain or discomfort from surgery or radiation, ongoing worries and sadness. Hot flashes may awaken you.

  I always encourage my patients to do/take whatever they need to sleep, The mantra is: You must sleep. The most common medication in our group is ativan, but there are others, and it would be smart to talk with your doctor if you need help. Taking something for a few months during this difficult period does not mean that you will be needing it forever. Meditation before bed may help. Regular sleep times and habits may help. Getting some exercise during the day may help.

  And this is an article from Cure Today with other suggestions:

Getting Some Sleep: New Strategies for Survivors
Author: Kathy LaTour

It’s the middle of the night, and Heidi Floyd is once again
answering email in the bathroom so she won’t wake her
husband. Now five years out from her second round of breast
cancer, Floyd struggles nightly to stay asleep.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” says the mother of four. “I
used to sleep on my belly and now I can’t. And I have
lymphedema and will wake up with my arm asleep.”
Oh, and don’t forget the hot flashes, she adds, calling them a
side effect of the estrogen blocker she must take.
While it’s not hard to understand why an estimated 80 percent of those in treatment have sleep issues while coping with the stress of the
unknown and drugs that disrupt the body in multiple ways, the idea that sleep challenges may continue into survivorship comes as a
surprise and disappointment, Floyd says.

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