Resolve to Sleep Better and Fight Bladder Cancer in the New Year
A new year does two things:
- It forces self-reflection on the recent past.
- It shapes our hopes for the near future.
New year resolutions organize these thoughts into action.
If you’re dealing with bladder cancer, you may review your journey thus far and how you’ll triumph over your disease.
Don’t forget the considerable support that good sleep provides. It’s often an overlooked tool for defeating cancer.
Sleep: Critical care for people with cancer
In a nutshell, sleep:
- Provides the body its best opportunity to fight disease and heal injured cells
- Restores daily balance to the body’s systems
- Offers an escape from pain, discomfort, and treatment side effects
- May be the best way to counteract cancer-related fatigue
- Leads to relief from anxiety, depression, and mood swings
- Is a circadian process that, when properly aligned, gives you a fighting chance against bladder cancer
Three ways to better sleep in the new year
Think of prioritized sleep as an act of empowerment. When you take action to improve your sleep, you’re basically committing to your overall good health and well being.
1. Sleep as self-care
Winters are built for sleep. It’s dark and cold. Sleep in January recharges batteries drained too often in December. In the post-holiday months, who doesn’t crave hibernation?
Prioritizing sleep proactively maximizes your body’s ability to fight cancer while optimizing treatment, restoring energy, and elevating mood.
Think of sleep as a prescription for self-care. Likely, your doctor’s already ordered you to get plenty of it.
Sleep self-care ideas
Start by resolving to practice more and better sleep hygiene. Start by turning off handheld devices an hour before bedtime.
Learn relaxation techniques that support falling and staying asleep. If cancer anxiety keeps you up at night, consider these popular ways to tame that beast:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided visual imagery
- Yogic breathing
- CBT-i (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia)
Start a journaling practice. Writing things down is proven to clear the mind. It doesn’t need to be a “dear diary” experience. You choose what you capture on the page:
- To-do lists
- Side effects
Take advantage of sales
Take advantage of winter “white sales.” Stock up on soft sheets, supportive pillows, and weighted blankets.
During post-holiday sales, search out deals on lavender Epsom salts, fizzy shower bombs, and massaging foot baths for pre-bedtime bathing rituals.
Make your sleep space a sanctuary. Keep it tidy and empty of anything that’s not relaxing. Add light-blocking shades, aromatherapy, soft music, houseplants, even a pretty box to store cancer essentials on your nightstand.
2. Nap whispering
Sleep patterns are notoriously erratic in people with cancer. This can leave you feeling exhausted, a victim of cancer-related fatigue (CRF).
A few causes of CRF include:
- An overburdened immune system
- Sleep interference from frequent nighttime bathroom trips
- Nonstop pain
- Side effects: chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy
When you hit the wall
You may be chugging along when Wham! your body hits a metaphoric wall. Maybe you’ve overdone yourself with errands, work, or social activity. Or maybe not: often, fatigue doesn’t come from behavior, but from cancer asserting itself while you march on with the business of living. Also, that wall sometimes marks the point where treatments reach full battle cancer mode. Your body, the battlefield, naturally wants a retreat.
Take the retreat!
Engage the “nap whisperer,” a kind of health muse who emerges to tell you when you need to grab a nap.
In the new year, prepare a go-to space in anticipation of future naps:
- Make your bed every day so it’s more inviting and calming
- Keep bedside water, medications, and snacks replenished
- Restock stoma and night bag supplies
- Invest in earplugs and eye masks to block out the daytime world
Planning ahead with whatever best helps you fall asleep assures you a no-fuss naptime.
3. Time for a circadian reset
The new year heralds the reset of many things: habits, attitudes, exercise regimens, diets. It’s also a good time to reset your circadian rhythms.
The time change in March forces a circadian reset on all of us, but you can avoid this disruption. Starting now, try going to bed at the same time every night, arising in the morning when you naturally awaken. This simple act supports a circadian reset.
See the light
Easy morning exercise done in natural light prompts a powerful circadian boost. A simple walk around the block in morning light does wonders.
If you live in the north with its unbearably short, dark days, consider light therapy:
- Full-spectrum desk lamps (10,000 lux)
- Artificial dawn simulators programmed to slowly mimic sunrise in your bedroom
- Eyewear or visors that direct light into the eyes for a few minutes every morning
However, you prioritize sleep, resolving for more and better is a gift you give yourself that you’ll thank yourself for later.
Sweet dreams in 2021!
Did you know that May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month?