The disruption of good sleep can decrease your ability to cope and lead to feeling isolated.
Insomnia or sleep difficulty is a fairly common sleep problem for those with cancer.1 “Insomnia is the experience of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. It may cause you problems during the day, such as tiredness, low energy, poor concentration, and irritability.”2
Electromagnetic Fields and Sleep
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) may possibly have a detrimental effect on circadian rhythms, although the idea is controversial. Some evidence suggests that EMFs may affect melatonin metabolism and the circadian rhythm:
Insomnia or sleep disruption is also a common side effect of many medications, such as statins. Before pursuing treatments for sleep disruption, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of your prescription medications may contribute to sleep disruption and whether adjustments can be made.
Managing Sleep Disruption
Even when people are getting the best of cancer treatment, they often feel like they need more help with organizing their care and managing symptoms and side effects. Helpsy empowers members to take control of their health through a real-time virtual nurse support service. This service is available via mobile devices, a Helpsy website and automated phone calls.
Several complementary approaches can help with sleep disruption. The Society for Integrative Oncology clinical practice guidelines list integrative therapies with evidence for usefulness in sleep disruption:7
- Mind-body approaches such as these:
Further therapies supported by evidence:
See Sleeping Well for a full review of therapies to promote quality sleep, plus the individual therapies linked here for a review of the evidence for each therapy.
In addition to complementary therapies, consider seeing a professional such as a therapist, oncology social worker or oncology navigator to help you explore your stressful situation and identify an approach that is right for you.
Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems
|For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.|
- Programs and protocols
- Traditional systems
Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on August 13, 2021.
- Our summary on sleeping well, describing an integrative approach to managing insomnia and restoring healthy sleep/rest biorhythms
- Lone Star Medical Group: Insomnia
- SIO clinical practice guidelines:
- Deng GE, Frenkel M et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2009 Summer;7(3):85-120.
- Deng GE, Rausch SM et al. Complementary therapies and integrative medicine in lung cancer: diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2013 May;143(5 Suppl):e420S-e436S.
- Greenlee H, DuPont-Reyes MJ et al. Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2017 May 6;67(3):194-232.
- Medscape: OTC Insomnia Supplements: The Latest Evidence
- Matt Walker: Sleeping Enough to Be Truly Awake
- Dr. Cynthia Li: Brave New Medicine
- Gurdev Parmar and Tina Kaczor: Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology
- Helpsy Inc.: Helpsy Health
- Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine: Breast Cancer: An Integrative Approach (2019-2021)
- Block KI, Block PB, Gyllenhaal C: Integrative Treatment for Colorectal Cancer
- Integrative Cancer Review
- Martin L. Rossman, MD: Fighting Cancer from Within
- Barbara MacDonald, ND, LAc: The Breast Cancer Companion: A Complementary Care Manual: Third Edition
- September 2018 Issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- Wayne Jonas, MD: Your Healing Journey: A Patient’s Guide to Integrative Breast Cancer Care
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Cancer.Net
- Donald I. Abrams, MD, and Andrew T. Weil, MD: Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition
- Keith I. Block, MD: Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment
- Lorenzo Cohen and Alison Jefferies: Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six
- Michael Lerner: Choices In Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer
- Martin L. Rossman, MD: The Healing Mind