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Selena B.sleeplung cancermental healthdepression

My father-in law who has lung cancer (not sure the stage, he won't give us much) has been having trouble sleeping and I think he is more irritable and low. How can I help him without interfering too much? He is a very private person.

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    Christine Morrison(Therapist, LMHC)

    Hi Selena- you sound like an incredibly caring and supportive family member. It can be tough when a family member is a private person but going through a tough diagnosis and time in their life. Sleep can be one of the most difficult pieces to maintain and can contribute to mood and energy changes. When someone is managing at their own pace, it can be useful to ask them open ended questions before giving them advice- consider asking questions that can't be answered with "yes" or "no" for example, "tell me about how your sleep has been...?" vs. "Are you sleeping okay?" Also consider inviting support by using questions that begin with "how, what, or when" vs. "why?" as "why" questions may make some people feel defensive. If the conversation does flow naturally after you try these types of questions, consider sharing some tips for sleep that might be helpful:

    • Establish a bedtime routine: Create a calming routine before bed to signal to your body that it's time to sleep. This can include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, practicing relaxation exercises, or listening to soothing music.

    • Create a sleep-friendly environment: Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Ensure it's dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using earplugs, an eye mask, or white noise machines if necessary.

    • Limit exposure to electronic devices: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with sleep. Avoid using screens, such as smartphones or tablets, for at least an hour before bed. Instead, engage in relaxing activities.

    • Manage stress and anxiety: A cancer diagnosis can bring about significant stress and anxiety, which can affect sleep. Explore relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness, to help calm the mind and promote relaxation.

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): CBT-I is a structured psychological treatment that targets sleep problems. It can be particularly helpful for individuals with insomnia. Consider consulting a psychologist or sleep specialist trained in CBT-I techniques to develop a personalized treatment plan.

    • Maintain a regular sleep schedule: Try to establish consistent sleep and wake times, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and promotes better sleep quality.

    • Avoid stimulating substances: Limit or avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially close to bedtime. These substances can interfere with sleep patterns and worsen insomnia symptoms.

    • Engage in light physical activity: Regular exercise, if permitted by your healthcare team, can have positive effects on sleep. Engage in gentle activities, such as walking or stretching, during the day. However, avoid intense exercise close to bedtime, as it can be stimulating.

    • Seek social support: Reach out to loved ones, support groups, or mental health professionals who can provide emotional support during this challenging time. Sharing your feelings and concerns with others can help alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep.

    Supporting a family member is never an easy task but you and your father-in-law don't have to face it alone. There's support there for you as you continue navigating this challenge.