Patients, Survivors Share Tips for Cancer-Related Insomnia

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We asked the CURE® audience how they coped with insomnia after a cancer diagnosis. Here is what they had to say.

It is not uncommon for patients with cancer to experience insomnia (difficulty sleeping) during treatment and even into survivorship. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, nearly 40% of survivors still face sleeping issues up to five years after being diagnosed.

READ MORE: How Cancer Survivors, Patients Can Better Optimize Sleep

In light of this widespread issue, we recently asked our social media audience of patients, survivors and caregivers of those with cancer the following #CUREConnect question: “Did you experience insomnia during or after cancer? How did you cope?”

Here is what they had to say:

“I’m still dealing with insomnia. I tried many things and they only help temporarily. I tried exercise, meditation. (I) use sleep apps.” — Irmita

“Nighttime was the worst. I literally needed a bedtime story or meditation to put me to sleep when I was first diagnosed. The app ‘Better Sleep’ (used to be called Relax Melodies) saved my sleep.” — Nicky H.

“After cancer, it was insomnia and depression and the only way I copped was medication (Remeron and Lexapro).” — Fatima A.

“After- still taking Tylenol PM and only works for about five hours.” — Terri N.

“What works for me is medical marijuana gummies.” — Instagram user

“So much insomnia. I use meditation, acupuncture and medication. It’s been four years and it’s still a bumpy road.” — Shannon S.

READ MORE: Acupuncture Can Improve Sleep for Cancer Survivors With Chronic Pain

“I had horrible insomnia; I blame it on the steroids. I had friends to talk to on social media between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. everyday and that did help. I did finally use sleep aids and marijuana products they all work.” — Karen L.

“It was the steroids. I slept (for a) max of four hours a night for almost a year. The only thing that helped was going off them.” — Becca

“Initially steroids and anxiety caused insomnia. My oncologist offered a sleep aid prescription and I had no problem accepting. I needed to shut up the voices in my head w/deep sleep. I still keep it on hand, but fatigue is the challenge. I sleep a lot. So I go w/what my body needs.” — Kelly Irvin, a CURE® contributor

However, some patients sleep more than usual after being diagnosed.

“I was really concerned that I was sleeping more than ever after all of the toxic recommended treatments that I agreed to.” — Yvonne G.

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