Sleep Disruption

Key Points

  • Insomnia is the experience of having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the night.
  • Unmanaged symptoms such as pain, depression or anxiety can contribute to insomnia, and then insomnia can often worsen these and other cancer-related symptoms.
  • Several complementary approaches can help with sleep disruption.

Insomnia is a fairly common sleep problem for those with cancer. “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.”1

Unmanaged symptoms such as pain, depression or anxiety can contribute to insomnia, and then insomnia can often worsen these and other cancer-related symptoms.

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.

The disruption of good sleep can decrease your ability to cope and lead to feeling isolated.

Managing Sleep Disruption

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:2

  • Mind-body approaches such as these:
    • Meditation
    • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
    • Relaxation training
    • Hypnosis
    • Yoga

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Integrative Plans, Protocols and Medical Systems

For more information about plans and protocols, see our Integrative Plans and Protocols page.

Written by Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, and reviewed by Nancy Hepp, MS; most recent update on October 19, 2018.

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