Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website about sleep problems and other medical conditions is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. For information about the 4th Angel Mentoring Program visit www. Toggle navigation. Spanish About Chemocare. Sleep Problems. It may also make it harder for you to cope with cancer and cause feelings of isolation.
Relieving symptoms, such as insomnia and its cause, is an important part of your care. Talk with your health care team about any problems you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms. Your oncologist may recommend that you visit a palliative care or other specialist trained to help patients manage symptoms.
Understanding the cause of insomnia helps your doctor find the best way to treat it. Your doctor may ask about the following factors that can contribute to sleeping problems:. The goal for managing insomnia is to achieve restful sleep and improve your overall quality of life. Understanding and treating the underlying cause of your insomnia is the best way to do this. First, find potential sources of the insomnia and ask your health care team to help you manage these conditions.
One example of this would be restless legs. There are no specific tests to diagnose insomnia.
Still, it's very important for you to have a thorough medical evaluation. Your doctor will check your general health and review your medications and supplements. If there is reason to suspect any of the causes listed in Table 1, he may order lab tests or x-rays. In some cases, you may be asked to have a sleep study polysomnography or to see a sleep specialist, particularly if sleep apnea is suspected see below. You can help your doctor evaluate your problem by keeping a sleep diary. Table 2 lists the information you should record.
Keep a record like this every day for the week before your checkup, and ask your bed partner or roommate for any observations about your sleep, such as snoring, interrupted breathing, thrashing, and so forth. Be sure to bring your diary to your appointment. Use your bed only for sleeping or lovemaking, never for reading or watching TV. If you can't sleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get out of bed and go into another room.
Read quietly with a dim light but don't watch TV, since the full-spectrum light emitted by the tube has an arousing effect.
When you feel sleepy, get back into bed — but don't delay your scheduled awaking time to compensate for lost sleep. Don't nap during the day unless it's absolutely necessary. Even then, restrict your nap to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon. Get plenty of exercise. Build up to 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise nearly every day; walking is an excellent choice.
Get your exercise early in the day, and then try some stretching exercises or yoga to relax your muscles and your mind at bedtime. Wind down late in the day. Whenever possible, schedule stressful or demanding tasks early and less challenging activities later.
Establish a regular bedtime and a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music. Eat properly. Avoid caffeine, especially after mid-afternoon. Try to avoid all beverages after dinner if you find yourself getting up at night to urinate. If you enjoy a bedtime snack, keep it bland and light. Avoid alcohol after dinnertime; although many people think of it as a sedative, alcohol can actually impair the quality of sleep. Be sure your bed is comfortable and your bedroom is dark and quiet. It should also be well ventilated and kept at a constant, comfortable temperature.
Try using a sleep mask, earplugs, or a white noise machine to compensate for problems in your sleeping environment. Above all, don't worry about sleep. Watching the clock never helps. Except when keeping a sleep diary, don't keep track of the amount of time you spend trying to sleep. Instead, just rest quietly and peacefully. Try not to lie in bed reviewing your problems and plans.
If you really are overloaded, get out of bed and make a list, then return to bed and think of something relaxing and pleasant. Although most people experience short pauses in breathing during REM sleep, individuals with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for longer periods.
They always resume breathing and they rarely complain of insomnia — but their sleep is so fragmented that they experience as much daytime sleepiness as true insomniacs. Over the long haul, sleep apnea increases the risk of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Snoring, restless sleep, and morning headaches are clues to sleep apnea, which is most common in overweight men, especially those with necks that measure 17 inches or more.
In this survey of over 15, people, many revealed different solutions. And obesity can contribute to sleep apnea and disturbed sleep. If the alpha-blocker has been prescribed to treat BPH, talk with your doctor about the possibility of switching to a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor such as dutasteride Avodart or finasteride Proscar , which are safer and generally better tolerated by older patients. Jacobs was aware of the fact that not everyone can access CBT-I. Insomnia can also lead to feelings of anxiety, frustration, hopelessness, exhaustion, and an inability to concentrate. Better yet: Put the computer away an hour before bedtime!
Good treatments are available, ranging from weight loss to a nighttime breathing mask or even surgery. If good sleep hygiene doesn't solve your sleeping problems, behavioral therapy may. Here is a quick summary of some techniques:.
Relaxation training. Learn deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, or meditation. Relaxing your mind at bedtime will help you drift off to sleep. Stimulus control therapy. Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Don't read, watch TV, snack, or listen to music in bed. Get up at the same time every day, no matter how little you've slept. Avoid daytime napping. Sleep restriction therapy.
Reduce your time in bed to the estimated total time you actually sleep in an average night by going to bed later, but don't go below five hours. Make the change by getting into bed later, not getting up earlier. Get up at the same time every day. Maintain the same bedtime every night for a week, and then move it 15 minutes earlier every week until you get a satisfying, refreshing amount of sleep. Then maintain the same schedule every day. Cognitive therapy. Learn to replace negative thoughts about sleep "I'll never get to sleep tonight;" "I'll be a wreck tomorrow;" "I'll get sick unless I sleep eight hours a night" with positive thoughts "If I relax peacefully in bed, my body will take care of itself".
You'd think that people who sleep less might get more exercise and thus enjoy some protection from obesity. In fact, though, reduced sleeping time has been linked to an increased risk of overweight and obesity. But why? A direct effect is possible, since sleep deprivation decreases levels of leptin , a satiety-promoting hormone, and boosts levels of ghrelin , an appetite-promoting hormone. But other explanations are possible.
Since exercise promotes sleep, people who exercise less may burn fewer calories and also sleep less. Depression can produce disturbances in both sleep and appetite. And obesity can contribute to sleep apnea and disturbed sleep. Clearly, more research is needed to uncover the skinny on sleep and body weight.