Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Last updated: September 2020
When I was first diagnosed in April 2018, metastatic breast cancer kept me up at night. I micromanaged my blood work results, tumor markers and researched results for my scans as if I were the doctor. Don’t go there but be aware of your numbers.
The commercials on TV were also bothersome. MBC is relentless. Have you ever looked that word up? Well, the first meaning is oppressively constant. These constant reminders especially seen at dinnertime played havoc with my head.
My oncologist along with her staff at the time was not very compassionate and their lack of concern for me found me over thinking this diagnosis. It seemed to me that they just wrote me off and that there was no hope for my future.
Things to try if you are tossing and turning
My acupuncturist, my spiritual director and my nutritionist were instrumental in calming my spirit and guiding me to a peaceful sleep each night. The following are some ideas if you find yourself tossing and turning that have worked for me.
- A warm bath in Epsom salts or a warm shower and use some lavender lotion on my body. Skin is important. Take care of it.
- Peaceful music, lay flat (if possible) and just feel my body sink into the bed. Try to relax and just enjoy the moment.
- If I watch TV before bed, I watch something uplifting.
- Use a gratitude journal
- Practice Metta Meditation (loving kindness)
- Melatonin: My nutritionist and naturopathic oncologist recommended the use of melatonin. I gradually moved up the dose to reach 20 milligrams, beginning with 5 milligrams for a few nights, then 10 then 15 and finally to 20 which is the dosage that worked for me. I must say, I sleep very peacefully and get 8 hours of sleep each night.
- The people in your life are very important. I surround myself with positive, non-toxic individuals who can give you hope and a “can do” attitude to live as normally each day as possible. This includes your medical team. If you don’t like your doctor, I encourage you to get a new one.
- Remembering these words has helped me fall asleep. “I did not ask for this (disease) but this is what I got”. There is nothing I can do to change this diagnosis, but I can stay positive and hopeful.
Each day when I arise from a peaceful sleep, I find myself grateful for all the positives in my life. Many people reading this article must rush off to work and get family off to school. No matter where you end up each day, a good night’s sleep will carry you through your daytime activities. For me at age 65, I can put on my gym clothes each day and head to the gym. Once there, I find myself at yoga class, working with my personal trainer to strengthen my core and upper body, or joining yes – a Latin Dancing class. The gym has been a wonderfully supportive place to be. I come alive there.
A great night’s sleep can make a huge difference in your entire well-being. Perhaps you can think of the word “relentless” when it comes to your good night’s sleep. This time the meaning of relentless is “continuing in a determined way without interruption.”
So many of us with metastatic breast cancer are at different stages and ages of our lives. Perhaps one or more of these suggestions may calm your spirit and grant you the restful sleep you need to stay “relentless”.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 5, 2019, Linda passed away. Linda’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
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