For some cancer patients, rest is difficult to find. As indicated by the National Cancer Institute, up to half of people experience considerable difficulties resting amid or after cancer treatment. But another investigation out of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center found that for breast cancer patients getting chemotherapy, honing yoga just twice seven days is connected to better rest quality and better rest proficiency after some time.
“Previous research has established that yoga effectively reduces sleep disturbances for cancer patients but have not included active control groups or long-term follow-up,” explains lead study author Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine and director of the Integrative Medicine Program. “This study hoped to address previous study limitations.”
The importance of sleep and rest
While a couple of restless evenings aren’t extraordinary for the normal person, they’re considerably more unfavorable for cancer patients. “Sleep deprivation is linked with lower natural kill (NK) cell activity, and NK cells are critical for an optimally working immune system. They’re crucial for healing.” explains Elizabeth W. Boham, M.D., M.S., R.D. “Yoga can help your body relax, calm down, and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. I especially love yoga nidra and restorative yoga for sleep.”
Concerning different techniques for getting more rest, Boham says she gives cancer patients she works with a handful of proposals. “So often we are working on our computers until right before bedtime, and this makes it harder to get to sleep. I recommend that people put away their electronic devices one hour before bedtime, create a good sleep routine. This can include a nice bath or a stretching or yoga routine. Also, make sure to get outside and get sunshine early in the day—this makes it easier to fall asleep at night.”
How to get more sleep and rest?
What do cancer patients do when they can’t sleep off? Sara Quiriconi, a renowned Miami-based yoga teacher who is currently 14 years sans cancer, prescribes yoga to anybody experiencing cancer treatment.
“Yoga helps you to reconnect your mind and your body, something that was destroyed (at least in my case) while going through cancer treatment,” she says. “Breathing, gentle movement, and meditation—all of the calming, relaxing effects of the practice—help to mediate that. And, while I wasn’t practicing enough asana (the physical movement of yoga) at the time of my treatment, I did find visualization exercises, breathing deeply, and journaling helpful when it came to sleeping better through the night.”
Breast cancer survivor Mia Russo Stern, who is presently CEO of Brooklyn Culinary Arts, suggests a blend of earthing and yoga, saying that she found doing yoga “mystical.” But she calls attention to that in the beginning times, yoga can be excruciating. “After breast cancer and a double mastectomy, yoga can be very difficult and painful,” she says. “The first thing you need to do is get clearance from your surgeon that you are able to attend yoga! After that, let your yoga instructor know that you are recovering. Take it slow, and absorb the well of love and positivity that yoga possesses. Only do what you are comfortable with.”