Understanding How Cancer Impacts Sleep & Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Understanding How Cancer Impacts Sleep & Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Join us virtually on Thursday, April 29th, at 5:00 PM.

Dr. Oomman, from the Bozeman Health Sleep Center, will help cancer survivors and caregivers understand how cancer impacts sleep, how to optimize your sleep practices, and how your healthcare team can support you in getting better sleep. Please register in advance by calling 406-582-1600 or register online.

Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining optimal physical and mental health, but sometimes, cancer can impact the amount of sleep you do or don’t get. Some people find that they are sleeping more than usual, experiencing insomnia, restlessness, increased dream activity, and even nightmares. Sleep disruptions and feeling tired or fatigued from cancer treatment sometimes go hand in hand. Changes in sleeping patters can be distressing. Talk with your doctor if you are feeling affected by these changes, and about what treatment and support services are available to help you.

Hypersomnia is described as sleeping for long periods of time (10 or more hours at a time) and constantly feeling tired. Insomnia is described as not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. And, nightmares are when your sleep is disturbed with scary, or vivid dreams that feel real. Coping with sleep disruptions can be challenging. Here are a few ways in which you can cope with hypersomnia, insomnia, and nightmares.

Coping with Hypersomnia

  • Exercising in the morning
  • Develop a sleep routine, avoid naps if you can
  • Spend time on activities you enjoy
  • Watch your diet; avoid alcohol and caffeine, avoid foods that may make you drowsy

Coping with Insomnia

  • Address the underlying source of your insomnia, such as pain, anxiety, or medication
  • Develop a sleep routine, try waking up and going to bed at the same time every day
  • Start a bedtime ritual such as taking a bath, reading, or meditating
  • Sleep in a quiet, dark room, with a comfortable temperature

Coping with Nightmares

  • Confide in a close friend or family member about your fears and feelings with nightmares
  • Journal or draw pictures to express the content or themes you experience
  • Imagine different endings or story lines
  • Remind yourself that nightmares aren’t real

Sources: Cancer Support Community, Sleep Changes