Help! I Can’t Sleep

When people think about sleep disturbances they are often associated with situational stress, illness, aging, and drug treatment. However, it is estimated that 45% of people with cancer experience some form of sleep deprivation.

The emotional and physical impact of having a cancer diagnosis can drastically impact your ability to sleep well through the night. Persistent insomnia has been associated with a higher risk of developing clinical anxiety or depression. In cancer patients, sleep disorders may be caused by tumor growth, cancer therapy, pain, anxiety, breathing problems, itching, fatigue, headaches, night sweats, hot flashes, and other symptoms.

If you find yourself unable to sleep, it is advisable to meet with your Doctor and review your complete medical history and have a physical examination. Be prepared to talk to your Doctor about your sleep history and patterns of sleep. After you have met with your Dr. you may want to look at ways that you can create a better sleep environment at home.

Creating Your Perfect Sleep Oasis

Each May, the Better Sleep Council sponsors Better Sleep Month to raise the awareness of the importance of sleep to good health and quality of life. Here are a few tips that may help you sleep better.

Your bedroom should be quiet and relaxing. An uncomfortable mattress and foundation, or a room that's too warm or too cool can prevent you from getting the sleep you need.
Start by turning-off the TV and lowering noise distractions in your room. It is important to keep regular sleeping hours. The more regular your routine the better.

Next, turn off lights (a dark room is best for sleep); keep your bedding and pillows clean and dry. Place pillows in a supportive position, and dress in loose, soft clothing.
Use the bathroom before you go to sleep to minimize sleep interruptions. If needed, take medication for incontinence before bedtime.
Many people experience body temperature fluctuations that cause chronic sleep problems. The ideal bedroom temperature is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 18 degrees Celsius). A room that's too warm or too cool can be very disruptive to sleep. Before bed you may want to adjust the room temperature or get a ChiliPad (

The ChiliPad is a mattress pad that heats and cools your bed from 48-118F. This way you can warm-up or cool-down –giving your body what it likes at any given time.

Some people have also found that eating a high-protein snack a couple of hours before bedtime helps. Try to avoid drinks with caffeine, exercising (which should be completed at least 2 hours before bedtime). There are also numerous natural remedies and pharmaceutical sleep aides available to help you sleep. Again, consult with your Dr. before taking any new medicines or supplements while undergoing cancer treatment.

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