Intuitively we know that a good night’s rest can help with pain and fatigue symptoms, but did you know researchers are also exploring links between sleep and cancer risk?

What’s going on in your body?

One sleep-related hormone that may help your body battle cancer is melatonin. Melatonin is released during sleep, and can also be taken as a natural supplement to help you get to sleep. Studies have linked melatonin to improved outcomes of tumor regression and survival suggest chemotherapy may be better tolerated in patients treated with melatonin. The jury’s still out on whether the melatonin is directly responsible for these benefits or the benefit is related to better health, so we’re excited to see how this research evolves.

Another important hormone is cortisol. You may know cortisol as the stress hormone because it’s involved in your body’s stress response, but cortisol also plays a role in regulating immune system activity. Stress and anxiety can cause difficulty sleeping, but did you know cancer risk has also been related to chronic stress?  Interestingly, a recent study on women with breast cancer in the Bay Area found abnormal cortisol patterns during the day were related to sleep problems at night – and the women with abnormal daytime levels of cortisol were likely to die earlier from cancer.

The take away: Get some rest and reduce your stress!

Prioritizing self-care activities like mindfulness meditation, yoga, light physical activity, counseling, and healthy sleeping habits are essential to any recovery, and particularly when you’re battling cancer. Giving yourself the space to relax and destress is key to sleeping better, feeling better, and being healthier overall.

Are you battling cancer? 

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