Living with blood cancer can be incredibly challenging, affecting many aspects of daily life, including sleep. Whether you’re dealing with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, sleep disturbances are common. These might be due to the cancer itself, treatment side effects, or the stress and anxiety that often accompany a serious illness. Quality sleep is crucial for physical and emotional well-being, especially when battling cancer. Here are some practical tips to help you achieve better rest.

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine

Creating a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate your body’s internal clock. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends. A calming pre-sleep routine, like reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques, can signal your body that it’s time to wind down.

2. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleep. Ensure your mattress and pillows are comfortable. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using earplugs or a white noise machine if you’re sensitive to noise. Blackout curtains can help keep the room dark.

3. Manage Treatment Side Effects

Some cancer treatments can cause side effects that interfere with sleep, such as pain, nausea, or night sweats. Speak with your healthcare team about these issues. They may be able to adjust your treatment plan or prescribe medications to help manage symptoms, making it easier for you to rest.

4. Stay Physically Active

Engaging in regular physical activity can improve sleep quality. Even light exercise, such as walking or stretching, can be beneficial. However, avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime, as it might have the opposite effect and make it harder to fall asleep.

5. Limit Naps

While it’s tempting to nap during the day, especially if you’re feeling fatigued, try to limit naps to no more than 30 minutes and avoid napping late in the afternoon. This can help ensure you’re tired enough to sleep well at night.

6. Watch Your Diet

What you eat and drink can significantly impact your sleep. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. Instead, opt for a light snack if you’re hungry, and try to stay hydrated throughout the day without drinking too much before bed.

7. Practice Stress-Reduction Techniques

Stress and anxiety are common when dealing with a serious illness. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle yoga can help calm your mind. Journaling or talking to a therapist might also provide an outlet for your worries and help you relax before bed.

8. Seek Professional Help

If you continue to have trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A sleep specialist or a therapist trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) can offer strategies tailored to your specific situation.


Quality sleep is essential for everyone, but it’s especially crucial when you’re dealing with blood cancer. By establishing a consistent routine, creating a restful environment, managing side effects, staying active, watching your diet, reducing stress, and seeking professional help when needed, you can improve your chances of getting the restorative sleep your body needs to support your treatment and recovery.

Remember, each person’s experience with blood cancer and sleep is unique, so it might take some time to find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support from your healthcare team, loved ones, and cancer support groups. Your journey to better sleep is a vital part of your overall well-being and recovery.

By Sue