How Patients with Cancer and Survivors Can Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 26, 2020

Sleep is important to everyone, especially for patients with cancer as they recover from treatment. But as many people are currently learning, rest is sometimes hard to come by while navigating the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Sleep is important to everyone, especially for patients with cancer as they recover from treatment. But as many people are currently learning, rest is sometimes hard to come by while navigating the global COVID-19 pandemic.

CURE® recently spoke with Dr. Kathryn Ruble, director of the Life Clinic and Leukemia Survivorship Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, about the impact that life-changing events like cancer and pandemics can have on sleep, and how patients with cancer and survivors can overcome them to get some much-needed rest.

Transcription:

I think that my advice to survivors and patients with cancer wouldn’t be that different than the general public. Good sleep hygiene measures are always going to be good to help stave off insomnia. And those are a little more difficult when we’re doing things like self-isolation.

So, things like having a schedule and sticking to it. Well, when you don’t ever leave your house, it’s hard to get a schedule that feels very real, but there are some important things that we can do: get up at a reasonable time, at some point get dressed, be physically active, eat your three meals a day. Having some structure to your life can really help. That also helps keep things like anxiety down.

The other piece I would give advice (about) to anyone, is to really limit the amount of time you are interfacing with what’s stressing you. A really good example of that is that we could spend 24 hours a day either watching media or reading media about the pandemic. And I think people fall into two categories: some people want to know everything they can possibly know about something, and that brings their anxiety level down. But there are just as many people that the more they watch, the more anxious they get.

So, if you know you’re one of those people that, by the time you get to the end of a television interview with someone, you’re feeling anxious? Then limit it. One hour a day. You can probably get all you really need to know about keeping yourself healthy and what’s going on in the bigger world by one hour a day of selective media that doesn’t stress you out.


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