Managing Sleep Problems During Cancer

Managing Sleep Problems During Cancer

Sleep problems are often related to the actual side effects of your cancer treatment rather than the treatment itself. “For example, wakefulness is a possible side effect of some medications to control nausea and of corticosteroids (prednisone, dexamethasone).” Resting during the day because of fatigue or pain medications can alter your wake-sleep cycle causing difficulty when trying to fall asleep at night.

“You should talk to your doctor or nurse if you have sleep problems on a few occasions. Your sleep problems should be managed early, as your body needs proper rest to tolerate treatment and to heal. Talk to your doctor before you take any over-the-counter sleep aids, as these may interact with other medicines you take.”

Here are some daily habits to help you sleep better:

Set a routine for sleeping and waking.
Going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning can help make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Limit daytime napping. If daytime naps are essential, limit them to 20 to 30 minutes, and avoid napping in the late afternoon or early evening.
Get daily exercise. Exercising during the day will help you sleep at night, but avoid exercising within two hours of bedtime, as it may keep you awake.
Avoid large meals before bedtime. Eating a large meal or spicy or sugary foods within four to six hours before bedtime can keep you awake.
Limit caffeine and alcohol. Avoid drinking beverages with caffeine (coffee, cola, tea) during the late afternoon and evening, as they may make it difficult to fall asleep. Also avoid drinking alcohol four to six hours before bedtime; while it may make you sleepy at first, it may disrupt your sleep.
Try drinking warm milk or herbal tea. Either of these beverages may help you get to sleep.
Reserve your bed for sleeping. Avoid having your bed be the place for other activities, such as watching television, talking on the phone, reading or eating.
Create a restful environment in your bedroom. Turn lights off (or make them dim), eliminate noise, set a comfortable temperature and make sure your bedding and pillows are fresh and clean.
Avoid lying in bed for a long time without sleeping. If you cannot get to sleep within about 15 minutes, get up and go into another room until you feel sleepy, then return to bed.



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