Sleep Problems

Problems with getting the right amount of sleep affects many people during and after cancer treatment. At one end of the spectrum is hypersomnia, which causes people to sleep 10 hours or more at time. At the other end is insomnia, the inability to get enough sleep to let you feel rested. Hypersomnia, insomnia and increased nightmares can aggravate other side effects and lessen your ability to deal with everyday activities.

Tips for Managing Hypersomnia
  • Try to get exercise every day, during the morning or early afternoon
  • Develop a routine to sleep and wake at the same time every day. When it is time to get up, get out of bed
  • Engage in activities that you enjoy and that call for your full attention
  • Avoid foods that make you sleepy during the day

Tips for Managing Insomnia
  • Work with your doctor to address underlying sources of insomnia, such as pain, anxiety, or stimulating medication
  • Sleep and wake at the same time each day
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, especially at night
  • If you are hungry at bedtime, eat a light snack
  • If you are able, exercise regularly
  • Sleep in a quiet, dark room that is not too hot or cold
  • Start a bedtime ritual, such as reading or taking a bath, to signal it is time for sleep
  • Medications are sometimes used to treat insomnia in the short-term and only when other treatments are ineffective
Tips for Dealing with Nightmares
  • Talk about the nightmares- reach out to a trusted family member or friend
  • Write in a diary or draw pictures to express the content or themes of the nightmares
  • Imagine alternative endings or storylines to the nightmares
  • During the daytime, talk with someone close about your fears and feelings

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