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The Importance of Sleep and Cancer

anxiety breast cancer cancer cancer diagnosis depression exercise fitness health healthy living helpful tips self-care sleep stress wellness Mar 18, 2021

I like to call Sleep the secret essential pillar for overall optimal health. It's where the "magic" happens to our bodies. (It's actually one of the pillars I cover when I coach my clients). We know that adequate sleep is important to overall health for so many health reasons, but could cancer be one of them?

Could poor quality and quantity of sleep can be a contributing factor in a cancer diagnosis. We know cancer is an overgrowth of cells that should otherwise have been regulated or repaired before they got out of control. Much of that work to regulate the cells happens while we sleep. It's a time when our body most efficiently repairs DNA damage, controls the growth of cells, turns on certain genes and switches off others and also promotes the immune system.

There are a lot of good reasons to suspect that insufficient sleep, chronic sleep debt or short sleep durations could have an impact on the development of cancer. Studies have shown when people don't get enough sleep or when they're always sleep-deprived that can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance. Chronic inflammation has been linked to several cancers. The combination of chronic inflammation nd insulin resistance can "set the stage" for cancer by contributing to DNA damage.

Unfortunately, too many people suffer from sleep problems or disturbances, especially if you are going through treatment.

Common types of sleep problems when going through cancer and treatment:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue (feely overly week and tired)
  • Getting too much sleep (affecting your daily activities)
  • Napping (could affect your night time sleep)
  • Body temperature (too hot or too cold, bathroom, nightmares)
  • Certain surgeries, radiation therapy, treatment drugs or hormone therapy.

If you are experiencing sleep problems or disturbances going trough your cancer, try making some small changes to your behaviors to start improving your sleep, such as:

  • Set yourself up with a consistent routine (set bedtime and wake up alarms, if needed)
  • Be physically active during the day
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature
  • Remove electronics from the bedroom (tv's, phones, computers)
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol leading up to bedtime

Try those changes and journal for about ten days and if there are no improvements, consult your physician.

In my coaching programs, we focus on sleep as one of the essential pillars to an overall healthy life. If you would like to learn more or just be a part of a community that focuses on health and wellness through your breast cancer diagnosis and beyond, visit www.shannonburrows.com and join our Facebook Community or to set up a meet and greet call. 


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