Sleep, Cancer and You
Everywhere we look, our lives are peppered with pink ribbons, bracelets, and all things related to breast cancer awareness. In this day and age, it's hard not to know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sadly enough, breast cancer itself is as prevalent as the shades of pink "everything" that surrounds us. So many people's lives (myself included) have been touched by this terrible disease in one way or another.
According to breastcancer.org, 1 in 8 women will be faced with invasive breast cancer throughout her lifetime. There are many factors that affect this statistic — one of which is sleep.
Here is the science of what we know, melatonin is a hormone in the body produced by the pineal gland, which is located in the brain and helps to regulate the body's natural sleep cycle. Melatonin's levels increase in the late evening and decrease in the early morning hours.
According to breastcancer.org, "The results of several studies suggest that women who work at night — factory workers, doctors, nurses, and police officers, for example — have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who work during the day. Other research suggests that women who live in areas with high levels of external light at night (street lights, for example) have a higher risk of breast cancer."
Cancer epidemiologist, Dr. Richard Stevens, agrees that, "Evidence is accumulating that light at night, and the consequent decrease in melatonin, may be a major driver of breast cancer."
So, what can we do in light of this research to help keep our melatonin at normal levels?
Use room darkening shades or blinds
Go to bed and get up at the same time each day
Put red light bulbs in night lights (as it is reported they do not affect melatonin as regular bulbs do)
Use SleepPhones to help you sleep and stay asleep
Wear a sleep mask, or pull your SleepPhones over your eyes to double as a sleep mask
Of course there are no absolutes when it comes to cancer of any form, but getting a good night's sleep is a great place to start. Even if it can't prevent cancer from occurring, I think we can all agree — we all enjoy a good night's sleep.