Living with cancer blog

Sleep essential for healthy living: Get your 7 hours a night

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. February 9, 2013

Did you get seven hours of sleep last night? Did you know that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy every night? Most people get far less than this on average, and the lack of sleep can take a toll on your body and mind.

As a cancer survivor, getting enough sleep can help your body respond better to treatment and may speed your recovery. It may also help you stay well if you're exposed to other viruses, such as colds and the flu.

Researchers have discovered that during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines which can help you deal with stress, fight infections and decrease inflammation in the body. When you don't get enough sleep, these protective proteins and other important infection-fighting cells are reduced.

Your body needs adequate sleep to fight infections and inflammation. Long-term lack of sleep can not only put you at risk for a weaker immune system, but can also increase your risk for other chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Lack of sleep can also affect your mind. Sleep helps you rest your mind and prepare for a new day of activity, memories and experiences. If you're not able to sleep well on a regular basis, you may find that you have trouble with memory and concentration. You may also have more anxiety and low emotions.

So, it's important for both your body and your mind to get your zzz's. Mayo Clinic experts recommend 7 steps to healthy sleep, which include:

  • Be consistent with your sleep schedule
  • Pay attention to what you eat and drink before bedtime
  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Be comfortable for sleeping
  • Limit napping during the day
  • Get some physical activity every day
  • Manage your stress

For more information on these strategies, visit the sleep center on


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Feb. 09, 2013