10 Ways To Sleep Better
TEMPERATURE. It is best to sleep in cooler temperature, high 60’s to low 70’s. Don’t leave your heater on, you'll wake up dehydrated--groggy, with dry eyes, dry mouth and maybe a headache. If you need to warm up your space, turn on a heater a couple hours before. Before turning in for the night, turn off the heat and sip a little water. That will help offset the dry air.
TIME. Typically, 7 to 8 hours are recommended for sleep. For a cancer patient, sleep in as long as your body tells you to. If 9 to 10 hours feel right, then that’s your number. Avoid scheduling anything early if that interrupts your sleep time. I know I need a couple hours to do my morning routine including breakfast. Try not to set an alarm to wake, instead allow your body to get up on its own time. It might sound strange but when I tell myself I'm going to get up at 6:30, I actually get up at 6:30.
LIGHT. Light will disrupt your melatonin production. It's best to sleep in total darkness or minimize the light in your room. Get curtains that block out light or use a sleep mask-- a contoured one like this won't press on your eyelids or smudge eye makeup during power naps.
STRETCH. Try doing a yoga King pigeon stretch. You can also lie on your back, with your left knee up, rest your right ankle on the left knee. Pull the right knee forward and away from the body. Breathe into the pose. Switch sides. This will stretch your thighs and make falling asleep easier. Doing this stretch deep and drawn out really knocks me out.
5. SUPPLEMENT. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try one of my favorite products, Calm tea (Plus Calcium). The orange flavor one too sweet. Raspberry-lemon is my favorite, it tastes like hot, tart lemonade. Another option is to take melatonin. Start off with a small dose of 1 or 3mg, working your dose higher a few days at a time until you find what works for you. To avoid dependency, do 3 weeks on and 1 week off. This is the one I use:
Charge your phone in another room or as far as possible. Use a surge protector to plug in all of your devices, when not in use or at bedtime, switch it off. I've stayed in a room with a dozen devices plugged and I notice I don't sleep well there.
Use a battery operated clock by your bed instead of a plug-in one.
7. PILLOW. Use a buckwheat pillow to keep cool. It gives firm support so that your head is in alignment with your body. And it makes it easier to read, since it is firm.
8. WINDOW. Don't miss your window. When you start to get sleepy, don't fight it. Doing that can make you miss that opportunity to get sleep. You'll end up getting a second wind and staying awake for a few more hours. Give your body time to unwind. Get ready for bed and avoid activities like over-stimulating games, stressful movies or suspenseful books. Instead do calming things. When I have trouble getting to sleep I like to go over the best parts of my day or fantasize about a perfect day I want to have.
9. ACCEPTANCE. If you miss your window, don't dwell on it. If you're having trouble, don't keep checking on the time. That makes you more aware of how much sleep you're missing. Instead, do some deep breathing like I mentioned earlier and tell yourself that whatever amount of sleep you actually get will be enough for you to do what you need for that day.
A lot of it is mental--Days that I end up getting to sleep late and I forget that fact, I don't even feel tired. The funny thing is when I do remember, I start to get sleepy! In the evening, I think back to the night before and I am amazed at how much I did on little sleep. This doesn't happen all the time but enough to make it count. Do you ever notice that if you were worried about not getting enough sleep, you wake up even more exhausted?
10. DISTRACTION. Go and do something. If you're consistently having trouble getting solid sleep, and you're awake for hours at a time, get up and do something. Give yourself a set amount of time and choose to do something that doesn't require a lot of focus.
I had insomnia for about a year while going through the first 5 months of chemotherapy of Herceptin, Perjeta and Taxotere. I would be up for 3 to 4 hours at a time. I started working on puzzles. It was nice because I could visually see progress being made and it was stimulating enough to stir me up even more.
One great thing about not being able to sleep is you'll be in alpha state and that where creativity thrives. Journaling and drawing are good things to do. Check out Zentangle drawing if you haven't tried it. It's drawing with repetitive strokes in patterns. Instead of highly engaging, it's relaxed focus.