Cancer Journey/ Emotional Health/ HEALTH

14 Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep Especially for Cancer Survivors

bed with rumpled sheets and 14 tips for a better night's sleep

This post was sponsored by a mattress company. All words are mine.

As a breast cancer survivor, I strive to live well in all ways. One of the most important ways to make this happen is to make sure I have a good night’s sleep.

If I don’t get good sleep, I not only feel unproductive, unfocused and grumpy, but my sweet family gets to bear the brunt of a Mom who is not herself and needs more sleep! This is not ok with me!

Not only is sleep so important for everyday life, but as a cancer survivor, sleep is so important for continuing to do what it takes to pursue my best health.

I so desire to take care of this amazingly resilient body that I have been gifted with, so being purposeful with getting enough sleep is a priority to me.

Obstacles to a Good Night’s Sleep

The problem is that in this life there are so many obstacles to a good night sleep, whether you are a cancer survivor, cancer fighter, cancer caregiver or even if cancer has not touched your world at all.

Busyness, stress, the wrong diet, room/body temperature, lack of a good mattress, the screens we stare at all day, anxiety, pain…the list of things that get in the way of a good night’s sleep is long.

Insomnia is something the general public struggles with it, but when touched by cancer there are several additional factors that can trigger it including fear of recurrence, dealing with a diagnosis, side effects of treatment, pain or hospitalization.

I am 8 years out from my cancer diagnosis and I still must be very purposeful about a good nights sleep.

My lack of sleep can stem from anxiety, side effects of cancer medications I take or have taken in the past, the several surgeries I have had since my cancer diagnosis or simply from not making the best choices before bed.


white linen bedspread and grey pillows

Why A Better Night’s Sleep is Important for Cancer Survivors

Melatonin and cortisol are two hormones that are directly affected by sleep, and both may influence the behavior of cancer cells. Cortisol affects the immune system and the body’s ability to fight cancer.

Melatonin may help prevent damage to cells that can cause cancer thanks to its antioxidant properties.

“Patients often worry about their nutrition or exercise and look to both to get stronger. But, I ask, what about the effects of sleep deprivation?” says David Visco, MD, Chief of Medicine & Medical Director of Sleep Medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Your body is in a heightened stress state when you’re sleep deprived,” explains Dr. Visco. “Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of health concerns, including cardiovascular events, metabolic conditions, and neurologic events, among many others.”

Yes…sleep is so important to living well.


a book and reading glasses laying on a bed with a white bedspread

Suggestions for a Better Night Sleep

  1. Magnesium – my favorite tool for a good night sleep has been magnesium. It is a calming mineral, and I find it helps me fall asleep faster and have a deeper night sleep when I take it before bed. I have used the Calm brand products (powder & gummies), magnesium body spray, or my favorite, a detox bath that contains Epsom salts that contain magnesium right before bed.
  2. Exercise – I know I know. We hear this all the time. It helps so much though! I worked out yesterday for the first time since my surgery. My thighs are so sore today, but boy did I sleep well last night! Not only did I sleep well, but today I am so very focused and my thinking seems fast and clear. Thank you free Nike Training App! Tip: don’t work out too close to bedtime…it may have the opposite effect that you want and keep you awake!
  3. Melatonin – I hesitate to put this suggestion up. There is controversy as to whether it is good for you or not to supplement with melatonin. I have used it off and on throughout the years, and during cancer treatment, my oncologist approved of it and it really helped me sleep! Some say it is cancer protective, some say it can mess with your circadian rhythms and your body may come to depend on it. I never found this to be true and could go on and off of it no problem. Do your own research and make your own personal decision when it comes to melatonin.
  4. A Good Mattress – I’m all about the comfort memory foam, and especially intrigued by a memory foam mattress that pulls heat away from the body. Cancer survivors/fighters often have to take medications mess with hormones and bring on dreaded hot flashes. These can very much mess with good night’s sleep. It is worth looking into a special mattress!
  5. Cooling Pillow – this is one that works wonders for me. A memory foam pillow with a layer of cooling gel is your friend if you are one who runs hot or struggles with hot flashes.
  6. Sleep Mask – my daughter Teagan bought herself the cutest sparkly pink sleep mask and I love peeking in her room and seeing my sleeping beauty girl in her sleep mask. Adorable! She loves it and says it helps to stay asleep after the sun rises. She has so many windows in her room…I can see why she needs it!
  7. Earplugs – my Dad worked nights when we were growing up and used earplugs to get a good rest. I have a dear girlfriend who uses them nightly, too. We travel together and it is always reassuring to me that I am not going to wake her up due to noise thanks to her handy dandy earplugs! She uses the type that is a moldable wax product that is moldable to the ear.
  8. RMO Sleep Oil – I love my Counting Sheep Rocky Mountain Oil Roll On! I use it every night. It smells amazing, and within 20 minutes from rolling it on my wrists and temples, I fall asleep. I’ve been using this product for over a year and just love it!
  9. Screens Off Early – be aware of the wakefulness that blue screen brings! Our ipads, Kindles, laptops, phones…they all could be keeping you awake! I try to put my screens away at least 30 minutes to an hour before I want to fall asleep. I either reach for a book or turn my screens to night shift, which blocks out blue light.
  10. Blue Screen Glasses – I’ve been seeing a lot of beauty and fashion bloggers rocking the cutest glasses. They say that they are blue screen glasses that they have bought on Amazon. Makes sense that they would wear cute glasses that also block the light from the screens they sit at all day! We bloggers stare at screes at all times of day! These would be good to wear at night as an alternative to night shift screens.
  11. Weighted Blanket – my family is gaga over weighted blankets. Our first one was gifted to my daughter, and when we all felt the comfort of it, we wanted our own! We now have 3 and also gave some away as Christmas gifts. They were created for those with sensory issues but now have been embraced by the general public because of how comforting they are. It feel like you are sleeping while covered in a hug and are not too hot…just a comfortable weight.
  12. Wake Up Early – this works well for me. If I want to go to sleep earlier, stay asleep and sleep deep, I force myself to wake up earlier than normal. This has worked for me! If I do it enough times in a row I find myself with an automatic new wake time and an earlier bedtime.
  13. Stop Drinking Liquids 2 Hours Before Bed – another ‘works for me’ suggestion. I used to take a bunch of supplements right before bed, but the amount of water I needed to take them kept me getting up all through the night. I finally got smart and started taking them shortly after dinner.
  14. Journal – this one is great if you struggle with anxiety or fear. So many people do, especially if are facing or have faced cancer. I’ve also had nurses tell me the medications they treat us with (especially anti-hormone medications) can cause depression and anxiety.  Journaling your thoughts can be so therapeutic. I especially find it helpful when I list what I am thankful for or write out a prayer. It is the ultimate anti-anxiety and I find it very calming.

There you go…we made it to 14! I am passionate about sharing tips and tricks on how to live this one life that we have in a purposeful way, and I hope these tips help you get the sleep you need to do just that.


How About YOU?

Do you struggle with sleep?

Are you a cancer fighter, survivor or caregiver?

What are things that have helped you with this?

Please look for the little comment symbol down by my social share buttons at the bottom of the post and tell me your thoughts.

Also, if you know any cancer survivors or fighters, maybe ask how they are sleeping and share this post with them?


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This post was sponsored by a mattress company. All words are mine.

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