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Insomnia and Cancer

Posted 7/21/2013

Posted in

  Cancer is terrible. Not being able to sleep is pretty bad, and the combination is exhausting, overwhelming, and very common. The best estimates are that between 30 and 50% of people with cancer have trouble sleeping, and I suspect that the numbers are much higher at specific times--e.g. right after diagnosis, waiting for test results, the night before starting chemotherapy.

  One of the troubles with not sleeping is that everything else in life becomes harder. If you are exhausted, the usual routines of life can seem hard, your patience and tolerance surely are reduced, and it is tough to enjoy anything. In a parallel way, being awake at night makes everything seem even scarier and more difficult. Life obligations or problems that can feel mildly irritating at noon may seem very burdensome at midnight. Surely the worries about pain or suffering or dying are even worse alone in the dark.

  Many people always have sleep difficulties, and those are worsened with a cancer diagnosis. Others are unaccustomed to sleep problems but find themselves unable to get to sleep or suddenly wide awake at 2 AM once they are diagnosed. There are many reasons: anxiety, sadness, lack of exercise, drugs (one of the big culprits being the steroids that many take as part of a chemo regimen)--and then it becomes habit.

  This is a very good article from Cure Today about sleep (or the lack thereof). Here is the beginning and then a link to read more:

Up All Night?

Learn how to put cancer-related insomnia to sleep.

Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder experienced by 30 to 50 percent of people with cancer. It can involve difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking too early or not getting quality sleep. It can also cause distress or impaired functioning. But there are many ways to treat insomnia, and this is important because insomnia can negatively impact overall health and quality of life, especially for people who have cancer.


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