Sleeping Your Way Out of Cancer

We all want more sleep, yet most of us are walking around deprived of this essential element our bodies need. When we haven’t gotten enough sleep, our immune system is lower and our brain function reduced. We don’t have energy for the exercise which reduces our risk. Shall I continue? I believe that there’s a high probability the day that first rogue cell entered my body, I was probably sleep deprived. If I had not been, maybe cancer would have never happened.

Sadly, sleep deprivation has become a badge of honor in our society. We all know a person who resolves, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” or brags, “I’m more productive because I only get five hours a sleep each night.” What these people don’t realize is a lack of sleep could bring death sooner rather than later and their lack of sufficient sleep actually makes them less productive. I don’t know about you, but I want to live longer and work smarter, not harder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs seven to nine hours each night. I’m no expert, but I think adding an hour or two if you’re affected by cancer or another illness is a prudent idea. The National Sleep Foundation also states your genes begin to change when you get anything less than six hours a night. Their researchers observed up to 700 different changes that can occur after a week of sleep deprivation.

My truth is, I am preaching about sleep after realizing my own problem two months ago which developed during treatment. Like many of us, I fell into the category of being perpetually exhausted. I would spend my days and nights laying in bed with the TV blaring. Once I was healthy again, falling asleep with the TV continued to be my security blanket and hindering the quality sleep my body craved.

On a long flight home after the holidays, I stumbled along a podcast where the Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington was interviewed about her book, The Sleep Revolution. She explained how the majority of us are sleep deprived and as a result, not living up to our full potential. Her recommendation was to create a bedtime routine as we do for our children, who wake up with superhuman energy. Yes, some of this has to do with youth, but some of it has to do with the quality and quantity of sleep they get each night.

Taking Ariana’s advice, I began putting myself to bed. I turn on my salt lamp. I take a bath or shower. I dress myself in comfortable pajamas and not the holey, old t-shirt I used to sleep in. I take my pills. I rub some lavender oil behind my ears. I write a list of everything I’m grateful for. I read a book for enjoyment until I start to nod off. I turn the lamp off and fall asleep until the birds are chirping. There’s no cell phone in the room, no TV and no iPad. The verdict – I am sleeping nine hours a night and waking up more refreshed than ever. It’s been two months and I haven’t napped during the day once, which used to be a regular occurrence.

While undergoing treatment, most patients complain about either not having the energy to get out of bed or not being able to sleep at all. I get it and I say, during treatment, you need to do what works for you and addresses the immediate need. If you’re too tired, drag yourself out for 20 minutes of exercise and then back to bed if you’re still exhausted – if you can. If you can’t sleep, try putting yourself to bed like mom did when you were a kid. And when all else fails, talk to your doctor. Let them know how you’re sleeping and any challenges you’re having around the subject. I can guarantee you’re not the only patient who’s ever encountered this problem, so chances are, you’re doctor has a solution for improving the situation. And like everything, be persistent. Especially if you have a history of cancer. One of the best healing mechanisms of the body is triggered by sleep and don’t you want all those mechanisms working at their full capacity?

I can see some of your faces. You might be a parent, someone with a demanding job and/or that person who has never been a good sleeper. I’m here to politely acknowledge your challenge, but then Arianna Huffington, the National Sleep Foundation and I are here to tell you, it’s imperative you prioritize sleep. Put your mask on first before assisting others. Prioritize it above everything else and you’ll be so much better at everything else. And most important, you’ll be healthier and increase your odds of overcoming and avoiding disease.

Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s site, sleep.org for some interesting articles, statistics and recommendations on getting better sleep.

Read my other Cure articles here.

Finding Inspiration in Illness

There were some pretty dark days over the past year and I’m often asked how I kept a positive attitude. Well, if you were with me during those times, you’d know I wasn’t always a ray of sunshine. Fortunately, positivity is built into the core of who I am, so during the bad days, I clung to hope and believing my healing was possible.

In my recent Curetoday.com article, Defeating Cancer Using the Law of Attraction, I shared the activities of my law of attraction practice which helped me gain control of my health emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But, sometimes we need to see and hear real life stories of people who are on the other side of difficult health situations, such as cancer.

Here are some of my favorite videos, books and websites full of inspirational, odd defying journeys.  

The Connection
An insightful documentary explaining the science behind the mind and body connection. The film follows several people who overcome dire circumstances, such as cancer, heart disease and infertility, using integrative medicine.

Amy Purdy TED Talk – Living Beyond Limits
After being given a 2% chance of survival from bacterial meningitis, Amy Purdy recovered at the expense of her legs, spleen, kidneys and some of her hearing. With her Mom shielding her from negativity, a kidney from her Dad and a lot of painful, hard work, she not only overcame her prognosis, but went on to become a Paralympic and World Cup medalist. In this TED Talk, she describes the blessings born from her struggles, using visualization and how life challenges can push us to go further than we or science ever thought was possible.

Crazy Sexy Cancer
Kris Carr is an entertainer turned activist, who revolutionized the living with cancer movement. Through this five year documented journey, she realized cancer wasn’t killing her, but rather pushing her to live. She even goes as far as calling cancer her guru. Her documentary and books are inspiring and share the tips and tricks she’s used over the past decade to defy her prognosis through healthy living.

Stories of Miracles
I love reading and hearing stories about people who did what science told them was impossible. Here are a couple sites I visit when in need of a little hope or proof that miracles are thriving.
The Secret Stories
The Radical Remission Project

Law of Attraction Books
My favorites are The Secret and The Power by Rhonda Byrne. Each book has a chapter on health, stories of improbable survival, suggestions on how to change your mindset and actions to attract the best possible outcome. I’ve downloaded the audio books and listen to these on repeat for a few minutes each day.

And when all else fails to inspire you, I found laughter to be great medicine. Over the summer, I spent hours laying in bed watching Jimmy Fallon, Lip Sync Battles and my favorite Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell films. Not only did they put me in a better mood, but they helped me to escape, if only for a while.

Feel free to comment below with your favorite inspirational stories.