With all the emphasis on sleep as part of maintaining health, most everyone is hearing more about sleep, being tested for sleep apnea and even using various devices to ensure a proper sleep. Cancer has inspired me to learn more about sleeping and to practice my sleep skills. Training to sleep well is now one of my priorities.
I used to think sleeping was a waste of time. I hated going to sleep and did not think I needed any more than about four hours of sleep at night. I never had much trouble falling asleep unless I tried to go to bed earlier than usual. After metastatic breast cancer came along I struggled with sleeping for a long while. My back with its new hardware required me to sleep in certain positions. That awareness was like a fire alarm going off in my head during the night if I sensed I was starting to twist or turn. After I learned to sleep safely for my back, my anxiety lessened. I had some bone pain, but it was nothing compared to what I had had before my surgery.
After that it was mostly treatment that interfered with sleep: radiation burns over a large part of my back, chemo and other treatment that causes bone pain that always seems to be most severe at night. I especially love those sudden stabs of pain in my legs and upper arms that always seem to come just as I’m falling into deep sleep. Anxiety can become a huge interference. I have a variety of tools and remedies to cope with that.
Lately, I have been sleeping six to seven hours at night. I know that I can no longer sleep a mere five hours or less and feel good the next day. In fact, I typically nap, usually no more than thirty minutes but sometimes up to two hours, and can still fall off to sleep at night with no problem—unless it’s just one of those cancer fright nights. Last night I did something I do not usually do: go out to dinner with a friend in the early evening; this morning I was so exhausted I could not wake up. I dragged myself out of bed around 8:30 and spent the rest of the morning looking for that truck. I did not snap out of it until the middle of the afternoon.
I anticipate that tonight I will collapse into sleep with no problem and sleep a good seven hours. I think this means that I am doing well with my sleep training.
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