The first infusion of my new chemo regimen that began early this year left me bone-weary and exhausted. I slept pretty much around the clock and finally felt well enough to get out of bed for a short while on the third day.
Three-plus days out of 14 (the time between infusions) seemed unreasonable then but even though chemotherapy is known to be cumulative (the side effects get worse over time), I was willing to give it another shot.
And lo – it was easier the second time. I was in bed for only part of those three days.
Since then, each infusion has been incrementally lighter (last week's hardly affected me at all) and although I no longer stay in bed all day afterwards, I have adopted napping as a tool to help keep me healthy.
Just this week, AARP published a story about the benefits of napping:
”Research shows that a short snooze can boost brain power, improve your memory as well as your mood (including your ability to shake off daily frustrations), and make you more alert.
“NASA scientists discovered that a 26-minute nap improved pilot performance by a whopping 34 percent — and companies such as Google, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, and Ben & Jerry’s not only allow but actually encourage employees to take snooze breaks.”
Further, 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 are not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night:
”'As we get older, it can become harder to get enough quality sleep at night,' says Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.”
That doesn't mean people older than 64 aren't sleeping enough too, it's just that AARP doesn't always include them. (Shame)
Now here's an interesting suggestion about napping:
”...if you can down a cup of coffee right before — yes, before — your siesta, all the better,” reports AARP. “A Japanese study found that doing so can amplify the benefits of a nap, helping you feel more alert and refreshed when you wake up.
“Caffeine usually takes about a half-hour to really kick in — which, coincidentally, 'is about how long your nap should be,' Grandner says.”
WebMD appears to disagree:
”If you’re feeling tired but have work or studying to get done, you may be better off taking a nap than sipping a coffee. Compared to caffeine, napping can bring better memory and learning.”
WebMD has a list of nap benefits. Napping can
• Improve your memory
• Lift your mood
• Ease stress
• Make you more creative
• Help you sleep better at night
”To get the most benefits out of a nap, you need to time it right. Most people will find an afternoon snooze to be the most natural and helpful. Some say sleep is better between 2 and 3 p.m., when humans naturally have a dip in alertness.”
You can see the entire WebMD slide show of napping benefits here.
I've never been a napping kind of person until this cancer happened. I've slowed down during these two years (just about everything takes longer than before) and sometimes I just want to lie down for a few minutes. Although I rarely sleep, I feel more alert after 30 minutes.
Over the past decade or so, napping – not to mention a normal, eight-hour workday - got a bad reputation. The “cool kids” made it a fetish to work 12, 14, 15 and more hours a day and it is only in the past year or two that there have been enough reports about the detrimental effects of too little sleep that some people are beginning to take note.
Because I've been so lucky with few side effects from my chemotherapy, I'll probably not nap every day – it's not been a habit with me. But nowadays, I use it when needed and it helps a lot.
What about you? And if you nap, did that change as you've grown older?