Stress about illness affecting sleep?

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Question from Michelle: If it's hard to sleep because of anxiety due to the illness, would you recommend doing physical activity a few hours before going to bed? What can you do to take your mind off stressing about the illness while in bed trying to sleep?
Answers - Helena Schotland Exercise is great, if you make it earlier in the day. The sleep hygiene and cognitive-behavioral therapy can play a large role here. Sometimes, I even tell patients to set aside a worry time earlier in the evening, where they think about their illness, do their research. But when it's time to go to bed, I like them to go to bed with a blank slate in their head, and preferably substitute some pleasant imagery instead. Some people are anxious about what they have to do the next day, so I tell them during their worry time to make lists of what they need to do. Again, when you go to sleep you can think about (my favorite image) lying on a beach in the Caribbean somewhere, or whatever favorite image you want to think about.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. What's the latest you would schedule your worry time?
Helena Schotland I would say at least 2 to 3 hours prior to bedtime.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. It must be important to have your place of worry far away from your bedroom?
Helena Schotland Exactly!

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Sleep Well: Healthy Habits for Good Rest featured Helena Schotland, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about ways to improve your sleep.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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