Patients Helping Patients Blog
How Cancer Patients Can Get Better Sleep
Cancer can make it difficult for you to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, between 30 to 75 percent of cancer patients experience difficulty with sleep. And even in remission, 25 percent of survivors continue to have trouble with sleep.
Pain, fatigue, and discomfort may be to blame for your sleep difficulties during cancer treatment. With cancer, you may experience insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, or restless legs syndrome.
When you can’t sleep, your quality of life suffers. Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, and it can make your symptoms or side effects worse. It is especially important that you get adequate sleep during cancer treatment.
Tips for Better Sleep
- Practice good sleep hygiene. With good sleep hygiene, you’ll go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, encouraging your body to fall into a regular sleeping routine that is predictable and can make you feel tired at bedtime each night. You should avoid screen time, heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol, and exercise in the hours before bed.
- Choose cool bedding. Night sweats or hot flashes at night can interfere with sleep. It’s a good idea to lower your bedroom temperature, but bedding can make a difference, too. For example, the Purple mattress has a unique buckling column gel that sleeps very cool compared to memory foam and latex, so it may be a better choice if you get hot at night during cancer treatment.
- Treat sleep disorders.: Addressing sleep disorders may be low on your priority list during cancer treatment, but it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about how you can treat serious sleep struggles such as insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, or restless legs syndrome. Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy, including relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.
Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.