Sleep: The Best Medication, It's Benefits and How to Get More

by Jackie Edwards

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer patients are twice as likely to experience insomnia, and almost half of cancer patients have trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Fears of the future and uncertainty about treatments are troubling ideas that would keep anyone awake. However, lack of sleep is highly detrimental to your body and is shown to determine how well your body can fight cancer and promote recovery and progression.

Sleep, The Best Medication, It's Benefits And How To Get More

Benefits of Sleep

We all need sleep to help rejuvenate and refresh our bodies for the day ahead. However, in cancer patients, the need for sleep is even more important. The lack of sleep increases stress on the body and dampens the immune system, making it harder to fight cancer cells. Disruption to sleep or not enough quality sleep can also imbalance levels of cortisol and melatonin, two hormones that impact the body’s ability to fight cancer cells.

Cortisol regulates the immune system and releases natural killer cells that help fight against cancer. This hormone peaks at dawn and regenerates with a good night’s rest. Therefore, not enough sleep will decrease your immune system’s ability to attack bad cells.

Melatonin, which is formed during sleep, has properties that prevent damage to cells. This damage to cells can ultimately lead to cancer and regression. Melatonin also regulates estrogen production and therefore lack of sleep can increase risks for breast cancer patients.

How to Get More Sleep

Counting the sheep not working for you? Well here are some scientifically proven ways to help you get the necessary hours of sleep to put your body in fighting shape, without the use of medication.

Nutrients: A better-balanced diet during the day can help promote a good night of sleep. Certain nutrients and minerals found in food can create healthy conditions for sleeping.

Magnesium: This nutrient can help us get into a sleep and dopey state before we drift off. This is why warm milk is associated with going to bed. Increasing your magnesium levels to aid sleep by eating foods like avocados, berries, melons, spinach, brown rice, sunflower seeds, tofu, and wheat and oat bran.

Calcium: Calcium plays a direct role in the production of melatonin and promotes healthy sleep. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, broccoli, and cabbage.

Potassium: Used to help relax muscles and nerves, potassium can ready your body for sleep and increase delta-wave sleep, the deepest phase of our sleep cycle. Foods such as bananas, potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, avocados, and fish are packed with essential potassium.

Therapies: If you have chronic sleep problems, you may want to reach out to a psychologist to find a therapy program catered to your needs. However here are some of the therapies that you may want to look into

Light and Stimulant Therapy: This involves the use of special lamps with specifically timed light exposures to regulate your circadian rhythm and develop a more regular sleep cycle.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This therapy involves relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and muscles relaxation, stimulus control to help view the bed as the place for sleep and limit the time awake in your bed, and sleep hygiene to promote healthy sleep. Cognitive behavioral therapy has helped over 70-80 percent of patients and reduces by half, the need for cancer patients to take sleep medication.

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