BY HAILEY KOLTKO Getting proper sleep can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it is caused by medications, like dexamethasone. Here are 8 tips to help. Get the environment just right Turn off all lights, add black-out curtains, play a white noise machine, and create a calming room. Ask questions such as, is my room a pleasant, calming place to be? Are my pillows comfortable? Does my mattress suit my needs? If any of these things are no, then fix it. After all, if you are not comfortable, you probably cannot fall asleep. If you consistently cannot sleep, consider resetting your room all together. Rearrange the furniture, buy a new bed spread, paint the walls, or just change the art on your walls. This helps you start from a blank slate and gets your body ready for its new routine of actually sleeping. Keep the bedroom, a bedroom Sex and sleep and changing are the only things a bedroom should be used for. If you’re struggling with sleeping, do not read in bed, watch TV, or eat food. These will only encourage your mind to stay up and always evade sleep. This advice also includes falling asleep. If you have not fallen asleep after 20 minutes, then get up and do something relaxing – out of your bedroom. This will help re-establish that your room is meant for sleep. Eventually, sleep will come and it will be in your bed. Nap for only 20 minutes maximum If you need a nap during the day, consider only sleeping for 20 minutes at a time and not in the late afternoon. Long naps, although refreshing, can encourage little sleep at night. Within a couple of days, your body will become accustomed to sleeping only at night. Make a to-do list The reasons for staying up at night are abundant. One reason is that you simply cannot calm your mind down. One easy way to fix this is to write your thoughts down and to make a to-do list. By doing this, you are not only committing these activities to memory, but you process your anxieties and worries, helping you to fall asleep. A ten minute investment can really help you to not stay awake for another two hours. Make relaxation the goal, not sleep When sleep evades you, not sleeping can become a vicious cycle. You cannot sleep because you aren’t relaxed. Then you are even tenser, because you cannot sleep. Solve this problem by placing relaxation as the ultimate goal, not sleep. Practice yoga breathing. Here is a video to learn how to do this. Another technique is to flex your various muscles and then relax them, beginning at your toes and moving up your body. Just focus on allowing all the stress and energy to leave your body as you exhale. Exercise daily Daily and regular physical activity can tire your body, allowing for a more restful sleep. Exercise also lowers stress, which helps you to relax as you are lying in bed. Do what you can. If exercise means walking around the block, or even walking to the kitchen, then do it. Have a sleep routine One of the best things you can do is to have a nighttime routine. Set a bedtime and a wake up time. Do not adjust these on the weekends, or, if you have to sleep-in allow yourself a one hour difference. Beyond specific times, create a routine. Put electronics down an hour or two before bed. Read a book, take a bath, or relax. The brush your teeth, take contacts out, talk to a friend or spouse. Then go to sleep. This teaches your body to relax at the end of the night and that it is sleep time. Take a sleep-aid With myeloma medications, sometimes nothing else will work than a sleep aid. Talk to your doctor about what will work best for you. Getting proper rest is vital to making it through treatment, healing, and staying healthy. If a sleep aid is the only thing that will work, it's worth it. For more information: Mayo Clinic: Healthy Lifestyle Joy Bauer: Can't Sleep? 8 Tips That Can Help National Sleep Foundation: Healthy Sleep Tips
about the author
Lizzy Smith was diagnosed with myeloma in 2012 at age 44. Within days, she left her job, ended her marriage, moved, and entered treatment. "To the extent I'm able, I want to prove that despite life's biggest challenges, it is possible to survive and come out stronger than ever," she says.