The Survivor’s Nest – Creating a Soft Place to Land


Now that we’ve cleared our bedrooms of emotional and physical clutter, it’s time to focus on the bed. Much more than a piece of furniture, your bed is the center of your private universe. It’s the place we return to at the end of the day to relax and surrender to sleep. For anyone living a stressed and hectic life, and that’s certainly most of us, it’s our place of refuge. Our bed should be, first and foremost, our soft place to land at the end of each day.As cancer survivors, our need for refuge and security is heightened. Not only do we have our share of sleepless nights of anxiety, but we may also have physical issues created by treatment. Our skin may be dry, damaged or overly sensitive due to radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Surgeries may have caused pain or difficulty finding comfortable sleep positions. We owe it to ourselves to do whatever we can to make our bed as comfortable as possible.

Let’s take a look at choices we can make to create our perfect sanctuary:

Mattress: If you wake up every morning with an achy back, you probably need a new mattress. The best advice I can give you when deciding which of the many choices is right for you is very simple: make sure to extensively test the mattresses in the store. Lie down on several mattresses, in the position in which you usually sleep, to decide what’s comfortable for you. When you find a mattress you think you like, lay on it for at least 10 to 15 minutes. You might feel strange lying there, but it’s the best way to make the decision. Most people will find that a medium firm mattress is best for them. Try a pillowtop mattress for extra comfort. The mattress beneath is firm, but the pillowtop makes you feel like you are sleeping on a cloud. Quoting Goldilocks very loosely, “Not too hard and not too soft is usually just right.”

Sheets: When looking for sheets, focus on comfort and low toxicity. For comfort, consider silk sheets whose “silkiness” is easy on tender skin. You can also choose organic cotton or bamboo sheets, which have less chemicals and wick away moisture to keep you comfortable. Avoid satin and cotton/polyester blends because they trap moisture next to the skin. Flannel can hold moisture too, but I find nothing more enjoyable than sinking into beautifully soft and warm flannel sheets on a cold winter’s night.

Pillows: If your pillow is over two years old, throw it out today. Pick a new pillow that suits your sleep style, be it stomach, side or back. Stay away from synthetic fillers, which can cause allergic reactions, coughing, wheezing and headaches. Try natural latex, goose down or organic cotton.

Comforters, Blankets: Again, look for natural fabrics with minimum processing. Natural, organic cottons will wick moisture away and keep you warm and dry.

Air Quality and Temperature: Open the windows! I find that an open window goes a long way toward a good night’s sleep. Keep your room well ventilated, clean of dust and slightly cool. You’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed (no more morning headaches.)

Creature Comforts: These are the things you need to make your bed your intimate space. If you like to read in bed, make sure you have adequate lighting. There’s nothing more irritating that struggling to read in poor light. I bring a glass of water to my bedside table every night because I like a sip of water if I wake in the middle of the night. Put a soft luxurious throw at the bottom of the bed to pull up over you in the middle of the night if you get cold.

Make your bedtime comfort a priority. It’s not selfish, it’s self-care. If you take the time to invest in a good night’s sleep, you will improve your nights and your days. If you can’t make large changes, make small changes. Just remember you deserve it and, by taking care of yourself, you will be more able to take care of everything else. Let me know what changes you made that brought you comfort. Happy nesting!

Survival > Existence,


Image courtesy of Louise Leclerc

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