Do you know why establishing good sleeping patterns is essential for breast cancer recovery?

 

These days is easy to find reasons to extend our evenings into the small hours of the night. Going to bed late, by this I mean after 11pm, is unfortunately not a good idea for aiming to achieve good health. We are teased to watch another one more episode on Netflix or to have that phone call with a family member or friend. However, I am not going to deny that all of that is very important, but nothing is nearly as important as to establish a good night routine. I have occasionally the odd night, where I go later than 10:30pm, but usually I try my best to stick with my routine. Honestly, for me pays wonders as it helps to deal with the following day with more energy, better mood and reduce anxiety.

 

Things that happen when you sleep, that helps you to recover faster after breast cancer treatment.

 

When you sleep your body goes through a cleaning process, where it gets rid of all the metabolic waste and toxins. The body uses the lymphatic system, and the brain the glymphatic system. The glymphatic system, becomes 10 times more active when you sleep than when you are awake. Brain cells are reduced in size at night, to make waste removal more efficient. Eliminating metabolic waste and toxins is an essential process of repair after breast cancer treatment.

When we sleep, we produce melatonin, the most powerful anticancer hormone that your body produce. Breast cancer drugs utilize synthetic antioestrogens to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation. However, your own body can produce antioestrogens every night.
 

Melatonin plays a pivotal role in the recovery after breast cancer treatment. It:

  • Improves the immune system function
  • Normalize blood pressure
  • Reduce the proliferation of cancer cells and tumour growth (including leukemia)
  • Enhance DNA protection and free radical scavenging
  • Decrease risk of osteoporosis
  • Decrease risk of plaques in the brain (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Alleviate migraines and other pain
  • Improve thyroid function
  • Improve insulin sensitivity and weight reduction
  • Keeps you younger

 

Let’s look now at ways on how to increase the production of melatonin every night?

 

Think of sleep as an incredible indulgence, something to look forward to. I start thinking of my sleep since the moment I wake up. I try to plan my day with the view of optimising my sleep that night.

I like to get expose to natural light as soon as I am awake. If I have time, I go for a walk in a local woodland area. If time is pressing, I have my coffee by the window. It doesn’t matter if it is raining, cloudy or snowing, natural sunlight in the morning it’s all you need to produce melatonin when it’s time to go to sleep. Your sleep cycle is heavily impacted by the amount of sunlight we receive during the day.

The brain is very active at night and depends on glucose for energy. If blood sugar is too low (3-4am) the adrenal glands kick in and release stress hormones that result in wakefulness and anxiety.
Recommendation – have 2 brazil nuts before going to bed.

 

  • Establish a regular bedtime and wake up time, ideally around 10pm to 6-7am. Recommendation – stick to it even at the weekends.
  • A couple of hours before I go to bed, I lower the luminosity of my home and use red lights, candles, or Himalayan salt lamps.
  • Keeping your room complete dark is extremely important. Your skin has receptors that can pick up light, like those found in your retina. Exposure to room light during usual hours of sleep, suppress melatonin levels by more than 50%.
  • Be mindful of the things you watch before setting for bed. I love a horror/suspense movie, but close to bedtime, is not a good idea as it stimulates the brain.
  • Break the habit of being on your devices in bed can be tricky at first. I found that the best thing it is to establish a time where I am no longer engaged on any device, including my phone. Then, I like to put all the device to bed in a place outside my bedroom, and I always switch them to plane mode.

 

Another two things that helps me to get sleepy is to make my room cool, and to engage in a relaxing activity one hour before bed. I like to listen to music, read a book, light an oil burner with (rosemary, lemon balm, peppermint, or lavender oil) relax with good company or do “61 points” meditation for 15 minutes.

 

Monitors & Apps that can help you to improve and monitor your sleep: Oura, FitBit, Apple Health app, Sleepio. Two years ago, I bought myself an Oura ring to motivate me to improve my sleep and I have to say that it has helped me a lot to understand what triggers a good or bad night sleep for me.

 

The brain is very active at night and depends on glucose for energy. If blood sugar is too low (3-4am) the adrenal glands kick in and release stress hormones that result in wakefulness and anxiety.

Recommendation - eat a small amount of protein (boiled egg, nut butter, meat).

 

In my recovery after cancer treatments programmes, I like to give my clients a list of foods that could help them achieve quality sleep, depending on their genes, likes and lifestyle.

 

Have you decided what are your steps to improve your sleep quantity and quality?