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Aches and pains during sleep?

hessomhessom Posts: 110 ✭✭✭

We know lots of people get extra aches and pains during chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer. So we've been looking at sleep posture and different ways of positioning yourself during sleep, to see if they can make a difference - every little helps, right?

So we're doing a little survey of our community - are you a front sleeper, side sleeper or a back sleeper? And have you ever tried to change the way you sleep to be more comfortable?

(I'm a side sleeper, and I sometimes get flare-ups of awful sciatica - but if I sleep with a pillow between my knees and one behind my back, it really helps and I usually wake up almost back to normal!)


  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am a very light sleeper, but also have a lot of pain at night from my back, hips, feet. I toss and turn constantly, but actually moving position is really painful too. It is a nightmare! I prefer to sleep on my side, but as mentioned already have to change sides very frequently. I think exhaustion must eventually kick in, as I do sleep for a while.

    @emilyrose , how do you find the pillow support works if you turn over? I can imagine getting myself in a tangle with a pillow! 😁

    Sometimes I have resorted to sitting up to sleep, not the best idea either, but it gives a little bit of relief on my bones. I can’t do it for long though.

    Lou x

  • NanaBubblesNanaBubbles Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    I have rheumatoid arthritis as well as cancer and have a few tricks for pain. Firstly, it was drummed into me with my RA that it is important to anticipate pain with pain killers before the pain kicks in as much more difficult to get rid of it afterwards. I have my painkillers a couple of hours before I go to bed and have a couple of paracetamol on my bedside table in case I need them at night.

    During the winter I have an electric blanket with a fleece type top side which I switch on quite low before I go to bed and lie flat on my back with the warmth on my spine for a while until my muscles relax, Then I switch the blanket off (otherwise hot flushes!!) and roll on my side with a small cushion size pillow between my knees to avoid the tangle! (You can also get ‘between knee pillows’ online which attach with Velcro to one leg but I found it too hard to be comfortable.)

    I get a lot of neck pain and have recently bought a wool filled pillow (online) which has a zip along one edge so that you can put your hand inside to fluff up the wool inside. The wool is really helpful with hot flushes as it breathes unlike synthetic fibres, is very comfy and also washable - not the cheapest but is really good for my neck. We also have a wool duvet now which is also better for managing body heat/cold. I have also found online some ‘medical socks’ which are made from thick alpaca wool with non-elasticated tops so they don’t leave you with a sock line on your skin - brilliant for keeping feet warm and also stops ankles knocking together if lying on your side. Not sexy but if they help you have a decent sleep ...... The alpaca means they don’t need to be washed too often either which is a help.

    When I am travelling away from home (not often these days!), I always take a mattress topper to soften any bed I have to sleep on, and a hot water bottle and an ice pack so I can use whichever helps most. Sometimes my legs burn with the cancer and a chiropractors’ or physiotherapists’ ice pack is brilliant for that. Joints might need either heat or cold. I also find that Neal’s Yard Arnica ointment is brilliant for easing bone ache.

    Hope something here helps you to be more comfortable ladies. God bless!

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @NanaBubbles ,

    Thanks so much for your brilliant suggestions, I think the idea of warming my bones, muscles up before actual sleeping is a great idea. Even just the thought of doing that, my brain is telling my bones ‘relax!’

    You are definitely right in saying staying on top of pain management, being proactive with taking meds before the pain kicks in is really important. I am trying to improve in that now, getting over my resistance to taking yet more pills, and seeing it as a help not a hindrance.

    I will look for a small pillow to use, I remember when I was pregnant, trying to use a normal size pillow put between my knees, but it was a disaster! Maybe that was more to do with the bump than the pillow! Haha.

    Arnica? Do you mean the cream we use for bruises? Or is there another type?

    I do have bed socks, I find if my feet get cold, the rest of me does, but it also works in reverse! I have some loose fitting ones which are great.

    I will also check out the wool pillow, as I have had a lot of neck pain lately, and my sleep has been very disturbed because of it. I do think I need a change of pillow anyway.

    Lovely to ‘meet you by the way! Welcome to the community, I look forward to chatting with you again.

    Lou x

  • NanaBubblesNanaBubbles Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    Hi Lou

    Good to meet you too! Glad that some of my thoughts might help you. The Neals’ Yard arnica is much more of a sticky ointment than the creamy version, although basically the same I think. I put it onto my toes when they hurt (that’s the arthritis) and find it very soothing also on achey bones on the rest of me. A little goes a long way!

    For the wool pillow have a look at the Woolroom.com deluxe pillow which is the one I bought and it is brilliant, about £45 I think. I do think that natural fibres are the way to go.😊

    I know what you mean about not wanting to take more pills. I am having immunotherapy which has upset my endocrine system so now having to take cortisol tablets now to add to the rest of them! Suddenly I am hungry instead of not wanting to eat and everything tasting peculiar! I shall end up like a barrage balloon if I don’t watch it! They have really helped with my energy levels though.

    Best wishes


  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Michele,

    Thanks for that, I still have trouble with my feet from treatment, so I am going to use some tonight, once I stop and sit down! Haha!

    I found the sleep blogs really helpful and informative, quite a lot I hadn’t thought about or realised!

    I hope you have a lovely, restful weekend.

    Lou x

  • NanaBubblesNanaBubbles Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    Thanks Lou. Yes, I did too. I particularly liked the yoga stretches before bed. Used to do a lot of yoga but have not been able to put weight on my hands/wrists for some time so had to give up classes so it was good to be reminded of some stretches I can do. Also the food suggestions I thought were good.

    Hope you have a good weekend too.

    Michele x

  • chrissie1948chrissie1948 Posts: 1

    Hi there everyone, new to this site so just introducing myself really. Definitely agree with keeping on top of pain by monitoring pain killers and to me heat is medication in itself. It allows you to completely let go and Imthink is a great healer for the body and soul.

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Chrissie,

    Lovely to ‘meet’ you! Welcome to the community, I hope you will get to know us soon, there are a lot of lovely people here. We all try and support each other.

    I am getting better with taking my pain meds, I think I may have finally got sick enough of the pain to ignore it and do find keeping up with meds helps, becomes more of a top up rather than starting from scratch, if you know what I mean!

    Yes, I love using warmth and heat to help with aches and pains too. My muscles do relax more.

    Hope to chat with you again,

    Lou x

  • AnnebAnneb Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Hi Everyone, new to site. I am 4 years clear but still on medication that is supposed to stop it from coming back !!!! Thats the plan anyway 🤣. So sleep and muscle pain still day to day life. I would not have survived without a V pillow. I can toss from side to side or on my back with support from both sides of pillow. Plus if consistant pain gets too hard to continuously cope with, take the pain killers given by your Doctor.

    My specialist told me that i was putting my body through more stress by not taking the pain killers when i need them. We need our sleep for the body and mind to mend, so we want to get up each day.💖

    However if all else fails i binge on favouite shows🤣🤣

    Hope this helps someone 💖💖💖💖

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hello Anne,

    Welcome to our lovely group, it is lovely to have you here with us.

    I am so pleased to hear you are 4 years clear, wonderful! I am 3 years clear, and also on medication too.

    Great idea about the v pillow, I used to have one when I had my children, I'd forgotten about that. I no longer have it, but will find another one.

    I am improving on the pain killers too, work in progress, as is the pain reducing. Like you have a lot of joint and bone pain still, but it is slowly improving, some days worse than others of course..

    Haha, ditto, re tv shows! I have resorted to that several times! 😂

    Hope you are having a good day,

    Lou x

  • AnnebAnneb Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Dear Lou, so lovely to hear from you. I am in Australia. So time difference of replying is a bit out of whack.

    Yes a girl i worked with told me about the V pillow when i was diagnosed. I am so thankful to her as it has been a life saver.

    Yes me too. Some days good and some shocking but i am still here to be able to grumble about it...ha ha so i try to combat the feeling by being thankful.💖 but the continuous pain does get you down.

    The insomnia drives me batty some nights. Thank heavens for Game of Thrones, Poldark, Victoria and all the late night serials...ha ha..

    Well better go and thankyou for writing to me. It is lovely to correspond with someone who understands and you don't have to explain things all the time..😁😁

    I hope you are having a good day too

    Anne 💖💖

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Anne,

    Good evening! I think it is great how we can chat across the miles these days, and meet people who we may never have done without the internet.

    Where is Australia are you? My three brothers all live in Sydney. I have only been once, and that was when my father died, he lived there too. I come from a large family, half of which have had cancer, three died, I wasn't going to be no 4!! I am very thankful to be here, and now make sure I live my life the best I can, making the most of it. I love being part of this community too.

    There is just myself and my other sister here in the UK now, and even one of her sons lives in Australia too! Clearly the place to be!😊.

    Game of Thrones! haha, I haven't watched that, but bought the first season for a gift in the family, but my daughters are reluctant to watch it with me!!🤣. Not because they don't like it, I think it's the content. I shall have to watch it on my own then, hahaha😂.

    The new series of Victoria has just started here too, we watch it on catch up as well.

    I hope you have a good nights sleep, I have to be taxi to my daughters job interviews today, and maybe get in the garden if the rain stays away, we'll see!😊

    Chat soon,

    Lou x

  • AnnebAnneb Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Hi Lou.

    Yes it is wonderful to communicate across so many miles. Its like having a pen friend from way back when...ha ha... when the post was all we had.

    Wow that is a lot of family out here. I live in Albury Wodonga, on the Murray River. It is half way between Sydney and Melbourne. Luckily we are a city and have all the medical centres here so we do not have to travel for the best treatments anymore.

    It is a beautiful city but still very country. You still see everyone you know when down the street. I love it. Lucky you still have a sister with you and your families. I hope your daughter has luck with her job interviews. We still have one son at home. He is wonderful, he looks after me as if i were Dresden China. Just a beautiful soul. He works but it is a tough market out there for work. I would say it is the same over there.

    We have just had our Federal Election called for the 18th May.....so here comes a month of Election promises ads for a month...ha ha....🤣🤣 just have to watch DVD's. Your brothers in Sydney will be sick of it by the elections i am sure, as the politicians seem to concentrate on the cities and dont really seem to care much for Rural Australia.

    It is going into winter here now. My aches and pain get worse now. Went down to 4 degrees overnight, Thank heavens for heating 🤣🤣🤣 it seems to be hitting my hands this year and the hip region. Oh well, could be worse, could be living in a tent🤣🤣🤣🤣

    How are you going? Are you on facebook? Where abouts do you live? Wow that was a lot of questions..ha..ha...not stalking you....

    Talk soon

    Margy 💖💖

  • AnnebAnneb Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Hi lou,

    Sorry i forget you dont ask for too personal info on this site.


  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 771 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Anne,

    Haha 😂 😂, you did make me laugh!

    You are up very late, or is that because our clocks have changed and yours haven’t? I get confused with the Australian time difference , mind you confusing me is not difficult these days! 😂.

    Hope you get some rest.

    Chat soon,

    Lou x

  • AnnebAnneb Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Yep, off to bed now 😁😁😁

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 771 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good!!! Sleep well,


  • RobertARobertA Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2019


    Gday Anne (sorry, but somebody had to say that😀)

    Lovely to hear from you and great to know that you are cancer free, and you also live in one of my favourite countries, except when we are playing you at cricket 🏏haha.

    I have hormone injections which keep the cancer at bay but they make me very tired though that does not always translate into sleeping well. What a pity you and Lou have so much pain. I have learned a lot about living with and after cancer through people posting in our lovely friendly community and I think that people who have not had cancer don't always understand the physical and mental issues which accompany this awful disease. It is wonderful therefore, to hear about the support and care you receive from your lovely son.

    My wife, Mary and I live in the small island of Jersey which is 14 miles off the Normandy coast. It is only 9 miles by 5, quite a contrast to Australia.

    We were married in 2000 and spent our month long honeymoon in Australia. One of the many highlights was the drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road, followed by a three night Cruise in the Proud Mary on the Murray River which I see is still going strong.

    All the best

    Rob x

  • AnnebAnneb Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    G'day Rob ( loved the greeting💖)

    How are you today/night? Over there🤣🤣yes i have to agree with you about Australia. I love living here. I too have favourite drives . The great ocean road is one and the other is the ocean drive between Cairns and Port Douglas in Queensland. Very similar and beautiful. Just love them.

    We are going to my sister and brother in law at Echuca at easter. My brother in law was diagnoses at the same time as i was with cancer....it was a big week for us all. We go on the paddle steamer, the Emmy Lou for the day and have lunch going up and down the Murray. It is beautiful. Your honeymoon sounds absolutely brilliant.

    Being new to the community i am slowly finding my way around the site.....late at night i might add🤣🤣 for information. It is wonderful.

    Yes i could not have survived as well as i have without my husband Peter and son Beau. They keep me on track, cheer me up, make me cups of fea, and are always there. I do not know how others survive without love of a family. I agree totally that the understanding of cancer survivers is missunderstood. I still have friends that cant understand why i am not my total "old" self seeing i am cancer free.

    That is why this community is so great as you dont have to explain why we feel the way we do. It gets exhausting. 💖

    How do you go with Medical care on Jersey? Do you have to travel off the Island for treatment.

    Well i had better go and start the day....9.45am now. I had a sleep in as i went to bed late😁😁😁

    So a big G'day to you and Mary from Australia

    Anne x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Hi Anne/Margy

    Your Easter plans sound wonderful. I do hope that your brother-in-law is now clear of cancer.

    It must be lovely to have your family and friends so close. You did so well to keep working during treatment, and it must have helped a lot to have such a supportive team around you. I still meet up once a month with six former colleagues from a company I left 13 years ago. Sadly, four of the seven of us have/have had cancer, but we don’t let that get in the way. Last month, we were at one of the girls’ house for afternoon tea. She is going through chemo and has lost her hair. She was trying on wigs and I was asked to decide which one she should wear. We were all laughing and joking about it. People can be so amazing when confronted with life threatening illness and I have met many wonderful people in this community too.

    Rob x

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hi all, 

    Well I think I have finally found a pillow that is helping me to sleep better, and is very comfortable!

    What is it?? It's a bamboo pillow. I still think of bamboo as the sticks I use to prop up my sunflowers! lol! =)

    I have two, but really usually end up ditching one, they are so soft, but very full and bouncy (wrong word!). I can still put the cool pad inside the pillow case which helps to keep me cool. 

    So just thought I'd share with all of you, in case someone else is struggling at night with sleeping and being comfortable. 

    Chat soon, 

    Lou x
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