Bladder Cancer and Trouble Sleeping
Since I have been in bladder cancer treatment, I have had a difficult time sleeping. I feel like my sleeping patterns are all over the place. One night I might be able to fall asleep at a decent time, then the next night I am up all night wondering why I can't fall asleep. Is it the effects of the treatment medications, or is it the fact my mind is always thinking about what my future holds, or am I thinking about the bills I have to pay? Whatever it is, I will share with you the top five things I try to do to sleep better at night.
1. Wind down and do breathing exercises
I try and wind down before bedtime. For me, that's turning off the television and pulling out the current book I am reading, or I might lay down and do some deep breathing exercises that help relax the body. You can find several deep breathing exercises on YouTube, which I have to say are beneficial and contribute to rest my body and wind down for a good night sleep.
2. Gentle yoga
Sometimes, some gentle yoga helps to relax me before bedtime. I take a yoga class once a week, and the stretches and movements we do are repetitive, and on occasion, the yoga instructor will add new yoga poses. Keeping the same repetitive yoga poses help me when I am at home, and I want to do the same yoga poses or stretches to help me relax.
3. Guided meditation
Guided meditation works wonderfully for me. Listening to a calming voice guiding me to relaxation really helps to fall asleep. There are various guided audio meditation clips you can find using YouTube. Guided meditation helps to calm your body and mind and prepare for a restful night's sleep. One of my favorite guided meditations is done by Jason Stephenson. You can find many of his guided meditations on YouTube.
4. Limit daytime naps
Now this one tends to be difficult for me because I am in active cancer treatment and a lot of the times I become fatigued. To avoid taking a nap, I will usually call a family or friend, and we will chat for a bit. Talking on the phone will distract me from the nap and sometimes depending on the conversation, especially if we are laughing a lot, will almost recharge me, and I will move on to do some housework or something to keep me going until it's time to lay down for bed.
5. Pay attention to food and caffeinated drinks
This one is a bit more well known, but I believe its an important one. I have noticed if I go when I am hungry, I tend to have more of a difficult time falling asleep. I will try and fight it, but the hunger always wins, and I will find myself fixing a very late dinner or snack. I am also a big coffee and tea drinker, as well as consuming the recommended glasses of water per day. I try and stop all caffeine drinks a couple hours before I plan to go to bed. If I don't, I find myself having to go to the bathroom frequently which keeps my mind and body from relaxing. If you are in the middle of doing guided meditation, having to go to the bathroom will interrupt your reflection, and you may have to start all over.
Editor’s Note: With heavy hearts, we regret to inform readers that on February 27, 2021, Curtis passed away from stage IV bladder cancer. Curtis’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to impact many. He will be deeply missed.
Have you talked to your doctor about navigating sex with bladder cancer?