Help! I Can’t Sleep!

One of the most common concerns amongst patients with cancer is difficulty sleeping. I hear this from my patients all the time…

I can’t fall asleep. My mind is racing.

These medications are making me jittery (thanks a lot, steroids.)

I awaken multiple times at night.

I am too exhausted to sleep.

Progressive muscle relaxation is a good tool for combatting both stress and anxiety, and insomnia. 

One study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that this type of meditation improved sleep quality and reduced overall fatigue in women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. 

There are several ways to perform this exercise. I will detail one method here that utilizes breath and muscle tension/release. 

  1. Find a comfortable position lying down (or whatever position you choose to sleep in.)
  2. Gently close your eyes and bring your awareness in to your breath.
  3. Take 3 slow deep breaths, focusing your attention on the movement of air.
  4. Beginning at the crown of your head and progressively moving down through the various muscle groups in the body to the tips of your toes, progressivly tense and relax your muscles one group at a time like so: Bring your awareness to the muscle group. Upon inhale, tense the muscle. As you exhale, relax and release any tension in the muscle allowing it to rest heavy.
  5. Once you have moved through your whole body, return your attention to your quiet, natural breathing.

Another good method is using a visualization; for instance, slowly pouring warm liquid light down the body.

For the next few weeks, if you sign up for my email list at, I will send you a free 10-minute progressive relaxation using warm liquid light. If you are already on my email list and want a copy, shoot me an email at and I’ll send it to you.

May you sleep peacefully!