Sleep

Okay, it is known the importance of sleep; sleepfoundation.org has the following –

Researchers have also shown that after people sleep, they tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks. Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.

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For the past several weeks or more likely about a month now; sleep has been difficult for me.  What caused this and how do I get back to sleeping good again?  Back in September in my post ‘The lab experiment‘, I wrote about having a medicine cabinet overflowing with medications I am unable to pronounce the names to.  Since then, I have stopped taking many of those medications and only take the necessary ones that are needed during this time of chemotherapy treatment, recovery and a benefit to my overall health.

About the same time, my inability to have a good night’s sleep started.  Could it be that these medications were helping me sleep?  My guess is yes, they were helping.  I have for most of my life had issues sleeping and for many years dealt with this by drinking.  I have not hidden my drinking habits here on my blog; some of you may remember these posts I wrote about my use of alcohol:

Addictions or Habits or Routines

My Life My Way

Drink, Drink, Drink

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Upon my cancer diagnosis and the treatment plan, I stopped drinking on a regular basis, and now with taking only the medications that are essential in my recovery – my sleep is affected.  Without something to aid me, my usual sleep habit for most of my life is back – basically insomnia.  Several weeks ago, my Oncologist Dr. D. prescribed me medication to help with the sleep.  The medication did not help at all and I continued to have sleepless nights, so I stopped taking that medication.

Without alcohol and with the reduced medications; my body begin to respond not only with insomnia, but also it started experiencing internal shakes.  After some research, I did find that for some people, chemotherapy treatment can have a side effect like Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS).  I feel this is what I have experienced in the evening specially when I go to bed, which aids my insomnia.  My mom experiences RLS and with my dad having Parkinson’s Disease, there is a possibility I am experiencing something similar if not RLS itself.

I have spoken with my Oncologist Dr. D. about this and the result is an additional medication for RLS.  I started taking this medication and it does help with the internal shakes but did not help with the insomnia.  I then decided to also take the medication specifically for insomnia.

Another effect on my sleepless nights is the fact I prefer either total silence or a constant humming noise.  I recently started using an app on my phone that makes the noise of a ‘fan’ blowing and now I use it by playing it all night.

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I like the constant ‘fan’ sound and it along with the medications are helping me have a good night’s sleep, once again.

58 thoughts on “Sleep

  1. Having just had a ‘nuit blanche’ as the French call a sleepless night (it means literally white night) I can only sympathise and you got me thinking back to my own Chemo journey some nearly 5 years ago. I certainly suffered insomnia (I’m not a good sleeper so I had to consult my diaries and they confirm it) … I guess that the drug cocktail you have to take is not helping and certainly giving up alcohol is a factor …. sadly it took my youngest daughter to point that one out to me. RLS is horrid – I had it when pregnant (which I assume you are not) every blasted time. I’m with Derrick … at least I hope you can rest if not sleep. And I send you yet more sunshine and this time accompanied by birdsong from Mass because my leg doesn’t work most of the time so I need to do something not active and involving leg therapy is that I have been feeding the birds …. oh boy! I have birds in a state of uninhibited manic excitement now that the message is out. Expensive it is proving but i love watching them. So birdsong and sunshine to you my dear friend from your whacko friend up North x

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    • Osyth, I am sleeping better now and waking rested. That nasty RLS was horrid and driving me crazy, but that is now under control. I am very glad the birds are excited to come visit you, however I am not glad to hear about the leg. Is it just a wait and see approach concerning what to do next? 🙂

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  2. I’m glad you found some comfort by your app! My husband is a fan sleeper. Most of the time I’m ok with it, lol… except when we have thunderstorms, which I prefer. I had RLS during pregnancy, the annoyance is so frustrating! I hope you sleep well tonight! (And tomorrow night, and the next…)

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    • Sadie, since we are now living in a 5th wheel trailer, there is more noise heard from the surroundings which bothers me. I needed something else to cover up this noise and the ‘fan’ sound app is working wonderfully. I am sleeping better and feeling resting now! 🙂

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      • That’s what matters! My husband was seriously ill in his adolescence, he often had to sleep during the day. They used the fan to drown out the noise of daily activity. He got so used to it that now he can hardly sleep without it! (But he makes an effort for me on those rainy nights 😊). You get your rest any way you can my friend!

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    • Van, I thought about sounds such as nature, but for me I needed a sound that is constant – this type of sound soothes me. I know many others enjoy the nature sounds as well. Thanks, hope you are feeling well today! 🙂

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  3. I have had insomnia pretty consistently since I was a teenager. Over the years some non-medication based exercises I’ve been taught are to have a routine before bed, which includes no TV or computer (I do leave my TV on now, but set to a lite jazz station..helps in relaxation), no caffeine after (for me) 7:00 pm at latest and I must have silence. Because I live near a semi truck yard where there is banging and humming and all sorts of engine and machine noise at all hours, not to mention bright lights that light the yard…I’ve had to develop more aggressive ways of getting relaxed enough to fall asleep. I bought a ‘white noise’ machine that has ports for putting in (I guess) nature sound or rain or trains (trains are very soothing to me) flashdrives etc.. To help with your possible inability to rest in the future (and it helps with pain too oddly enough) is the following: a breathing regime that consists of breathing in on a four count, and breathing out on a six count..concentrate on the breathing and it truly does relax the body for some reason. The other is the full body deliberate relax …you lie on your back and going from your toes to the top of your head, consciously tense each body part (toes, feet, ankles, etc etc) and relax it going in order. It helps the serotonin levels rise and serotonin is what makes us fall asleep. Don’t get discouraged if these don’t help right away, it’s taken me years to get them to work for me and they don’t always come through. But it’s better than the comatose state I used to operate in (literally some times) when taking things like Lunesta (which is addictive) and Ambien. I now take a low dose of trazodone and paired with the mind exercises, I usually can sleep pretty well. Good luck to you my friend!! You NEED your rest!!

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    • Thanks dear for the information, I was trying my medication, but because of the RLS, it was not working. I do not like to take medications for sleeping, but feel at this time I need it. I am hoping once chemo is over, I will stop the medications and try the medication and/or your techniques because that would be a much better method. I always appreciate your input – Happy Tuesday! 🙂

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  4. Sorry to hear you’ve not been sleeping well although hope the app has been helping you. What I learned about sleep when attending hospital for pain was that you need to retrain your body to sleep. Setting patterns, routines, creating a relaxing space in your bedroom ( no tv/ or workspace in your bedroom and having blackout curtains/ blinds) , not having caffeine after 6pm, doing relaxation exercises, getting up and doing something if unable to sleep after 20 minutes. Hope some of that helps. II also have RLS and so does my mum. I get up and do some rotations on my pedal machine ( basically bike pedals without the bike) which helps with the restlessness. I have even sometimes wrapped my foot in cold wet towels! Wishing you well xx

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  5. I’m happy you are sleeping better and very happy the dratted RLS is in the bin. As for me, my leg is very much a wait and see …. it turns out that my leg means I will be here in the US until at least mid next month and maybe even to the beginning of December which it also turns out is a h apply thing for me (who knew I would be happy attracting birds and critters and getting used to using a brace to walk with …. life is what you make it – approximately!)

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  6. I have problems with sleeping despite taking my Xanax at night. The OTC anti-histamines cause other problems so I have started a melatonin supplement. It worked very well last night… I use a particular brand of ear plugs because the cat and husband snore and try to make sure it is not too hot in the room. Glad to hear from your responses that sleeping is better. Part of the problem may be that you are unable to exercise as much as you did. Good luck. K x

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  7. Good to know you are sleeping again. I often find it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep. The simple 4:7:8 breathing technique helps some (I’m sure you can find it online). Also, I take magnesium tablets for restless and cramping legs. Makes a huge difference. Thinking of you, even though I can’t always comment while I’m travelling.

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  8. So glad you found something that worked for you Terry! My hubby has great difficulty sleeping while in chemo… and the sleeping mess just make him dopey the next day but don’t actually help him sleep. We found meditation really helped. Listening to a body scan meditation audio (or me talking home through it) worked well to bring about relaxation and release into sleep. Hope you sleep well tonight 💛

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    • Thanks Val, I am sleeping better though not great – but I do feel rested much of the day. I use to meditate and then stopped and am trying to get back into it – but having difficulty. Happy Wednesday. 🙂

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  9. Terry you did not show up in WP reader today for some reason? Just wanted to let you know that. I can not say I have never had sleeping issues (may be in 8-9th month of pregnancy). You must have felt quite fatigued yet, not able to get restful sleep that’s dreadful Terry. I do hope that the app continues to assist you to a peaceful REM sleep. Sometimes easier said than done right? Sunshine Hugs

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  10. Well, all I can say is thank goodness for the ‘fan’. Insomnia is horrid, and I cannot imagine how frustrating the internal shakes must have been. I am so pleased though you have found a solution that helps. It must be heaven to finally be sleeping again, and feeling rested. 🙂
    You know what, all the lack of sleep combined with everything you were dealing with, no wonder you felt moody. Have a great day my friend. 🙂

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  11. I have a sound machine, box fan, and air purifier fan. I am a fan queen!!! I can’t sleep without them and even with them I often lay awake. Anyone who suffers from insomnia knows the utter frustration of exhaustion YET laying wide awake. I did this last night until 4 am.
    I am so glad you were able to trouble shoot it all with your doc and finally get rest.i hope you keep sleeping and keep healing!

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    • Well I wish I could stay sleeping all night, but like this morning I was awake at 3:00 AM and did not go back to bed. But that was better then laying awake all night. And you are correct insomnia is frustrating and can make one just plain crazy at times – I have an upcoming post soon where I recorded my voice about my frustrations on one of those insomnia nights. Thanks for stopping by, I hope the sleeping becomes better for you.

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  12. Sorry to hear about your sleeping problems, I can relate and really feel what you’re going through. Maybe that explains my failing memory! Take care and here’s to more restful nights. 💤

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  13. I use different breathing methods to slow my thoughts down so I can fall asleep. We learned them in chair yoga class and it has helped. I like that idea of a calming noise in the room. Some people use nature sounds like ocean waves,and the fan sounds like it would mimic breezes.

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    • I guess there are many of us that experience some sort of issue with regards to sleeping. I have tried using what I learned with my meditating but the internal shaking were not helping. While I would prefer not to take medications, it works for me at this time. I still need my ‘fan’ sound – it soothes my mind. 🙂

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  14. I´m glad you´re able to get some sleep again, Terry. That app sounds great! Not unfamiliar with insomnia myself I also tried different things over the years… Sometimes it helps listening to an audiobook read by a good actor with a soothing voice that lulls you into sleep. And it also helps to hear the same book over and over again, ´cause then you know what´s coming and don´t wonder how the story might end 😉
    Have a very happy and restful day, my dear friend! xxxxx

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    • There are many of us that deal with insomnia and I guess we all find something that works best for us. Mine is better, though not great – but I am getting more rest than I was. Thanks Sarah, hope you have a happy and restful day as well. 🙂

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