Well For Life

Well For Life

A Good Night Sleep and Your Healing Journey

Most people know that the immune system is their first line of defense in both preventing diseases, and recovering from an illness. Your diet, exercise, and healthy sleep habits are critical to maintaining a strong healthy immune system. We are often overloaded with information about why we need to get exercise, and the importance of a healthy diet, but many people may not realise how crucial getting enough good quality sleep is to our health.


“When we go to sleep our body goes to work”


Sleep is a rejuvenating time for the immune system—and it’s also a time when our natural immune activity increases, as our internal defense system goes to work to fight illness and disease. Sleep is an active process and it’s a time when the body detoxifies, heals, and regenerates.  Sleep may contribute to how well your body fights cancer and it may help explain how mental well-being plays into cancer recovery and progression.

Sleep is regulated by the body’s natural, internal clock called the circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm runs on a 24 hour cycle and is associated with sunlight and darkness. It is also affected by our eating patterns, gut microbiome, stress, environmental toxins. We need 8-10 hours of good quality sleep, but anxiety, fear, stress, and a dysfunctional circadian rhythm make it very difficult to get a full night’s sleep. Going to bed and waking up at different times from one day or one week to the next, can contribute to strain and disruption on our circadian clocks.


The Effects of Poor Sleep Patterns


Poor sleep patterns and disrupted circadian rhythms can have a serious effect on our health:

  • It is a contributor to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity. It can increase appetite, likely due to its effect on hormones that signal hunger and fullness.  Increased body fat and obesity increase our cancer risk.
  • By interfering in the production of insulin and insulin’s effectiveness in regulating blood sugar, it can promote insulin resistance.  The excess insulin makes you hungrier and tells the body to store more calories as fat. Insulin resistance is a precursor for both type 2 diabetes and weight gain both of which are cancer risks.
  • While sleeping, the body produces hormones that help fight infections. Research has shown that people who have difficulty with sleep have a lower level of Natural Killer Cells. This can result in a compromised and suppressed immune system.
  • It can create problems with an immune function that include excessive, chronic inflammation.  When these inflammatory responses become chronic, cell mutation and proliferation can result, often creating an environment that is conducive to the development of cancer.
  • People who don’t get enough sleep tend to have lower melatonin levels. Melatonin is often referred to as the “sleep hormone”, it is highest in the body between 12-8 am. Melatonin production is inhibited by light, when our eyes receive light in the morning it sends signals to the pineal gland to shut off the production of melatonin. Melatonin is encouraged by darkness, to prepare the body for sleep.  Melatonin has powerful antioxidant properties that help prevent damage to cells that can lead to cancer. It increases the effectiveness of killer immune cells that fight off foreign invaders and cancer cells. Melatonin also has anti-estrogenic effects, it is involved in lowering estrogen levels and reducing estrogen-related activity in the body. Estrogen is involved in the development of some forms of breast cancer, as well as ovarian and endometrial cancers.

The key is to create Better Sleep Habits


Consistent, High-Quality Sleep

Consistency is one of the most important elements in getting a quality night’s sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps your body create a routine that promotes better sleep. It’s only a myth that you can “catch-up” on lost sleep by sleeping for longer another time.

Sleeping Environment

Environment plays a large role in sleep quality. We tend to have a more restful sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet, room. Try blackout curtains, a sleep mask, earplugs, or a white noise machine, they help create the ideal sleep environment.

Hot Bath

If you have trouble falling asleep, taking a warm bath or shower (which can also promote relaxation) before bed can cause a decrease in body temperature afterward thereby promoting sleep.


Try to limit your exposure to blue light at least one hour before bedtime. Blue light keeps our brain awake and prevents melatonin production. It is emitted from screens (phones, TV, computers). Blue light reducing filters or glasses may be helpful, but, ideally, it is best to discontinue any electronics before bedtime. We should try to aim for at least 1 hour of sunlight shining in our eyes every day. This helps to regulate our biological rhythms which control our immune system and much more.

Caffeine: Sleep’s Chemical Enemy

Try to avoid consuming any caffeine sources past 2 pm as it stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.  Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even chocolate. Look for caffeine-free alternatives.


Alcohol disrupts your circadian rhythm, as it can reduce nighttime melatonin production. Many people may fall asleep quickly, but it reduces the quality of their sleep.

Exercise & Food

Exercise early in the day is thought to not just help you fall asleep faster, but it is also shown to improve the quality of your sleep. Avoid eating late at night, instead of detoxing and repairing, the body will be converting food into energy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

If stress or anxiety is the cause of your sleep problem or insomnia many people find Cognitive Behavioral Therapy very beneficial.  This therapy focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect your feelings and behavior and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.

Aromatherapy: Promoting Relaxation

Lavender is a widely used scent that may increase the quality of sleep and can decrease anxiety. Cedarwood scent may increase sleep time and reduce waking up too early. I like to use doTERRA essential oils, they provide high-quality, pure essential oils.

Meditation and breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing pattern aims to reduce anxiety and can help people get to sleep.

Sleep problems may often stem from stress and worry, but meditation is a relaxation technique that many people use to help sleep better.  Meditation helps lower the heart rate by igniting the parasympathetic nervous system and encouraging slower breathing, thereby increasing the prospect of a quality night’s sleep.


During stressful times, racing thoughts can make it difficult to turn our minds off at night. Research has shown that writing down whatever thoughts keep replaying in your mind can allow your mind to rest, which in turn may allow you to fall asleep.


Natural foods & herbs to boost your sleep



  • Eating melatonin-rich foods like cherries.
  • Bananas, oatmeal, and milk contain the amino acid tryptophan which supports the production of melatonin.
  • Herbs are a natural sleep aid to relax the body and promote a restful night’s sleep. Valerian, Chamomile, and Passionflower promote relaxation and sleep.
  • Magnesium plays a critical role in regulating melatonin. It can be put in a bath before bedtime or taken as a supplement.
  • Honey stimulates the sleep hormone melatonin. A mug of hot water, lemon, and honey is a great evening drink to induce sleep.

Sleep can play a powerful and protective role in helping us manage and even reduce our cancer risk.  Now that you understand how sleep may affect your health, hopefully, the more attention you will give to creating a healthy consistent sleep habits.