Insomnia and Chemotherapy
A recent study in The Journal of Clinical Oncology by Oxana Patesh, PhD of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center suggests that there is a higher incidence of insomnia among people receiving chemotherapy than previously recognized. There could be a number of explanations for this, and it is probably impossible to tease out a single cause. There are the drugs (steroids used to control nausea or allergic reactions would be major culprits), the stress and worries that are always worse at night, the probably reduced exercise and perhaps naps during the day, changes in routines and diets. It is tough enough to have cancer and to be on chemotherapy without also being exhausted due to lack of sleep. I hear about this problem fairly often, and talk about all the usual suspects as well as the possible remedies. The bottom line is that you have to sleep, and, even if that requires medication, it is necessary right now. You will be able to slowly come off anything that you are taking for sleep when the time comes.
Here is a quote from the study and then a link if you want to read more:
The prevalence of insomnia in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy is far greater than has been thought. That was the conclusion of a subset analysis from a large prospective study by researchers at the University of Rochester.
In the study, published in the January 10 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, insomnia was more than twice as common in patients undergoing chemotherapy compared with the general population. During the seventh day of the first cycle of chemotherapy, 37% of patients (301 patients) reported symptoms of insomnia and 43% (362) met the diagnostic criteria for having insomnia syndrome; 60% of those patients reported that their insomnia symptoms remained unchanged from the first to the second cycles of chemotherapy.
The total number of study patients experiencing insomnia symptoms or having insomnia syndrome, 80%, is two to three times higher than in the general population, said the authors, led by Oxana Palesh, PhD, Research Assistant Professor in the Departments of Radiation Oncology and Psychiatry at the Medical Center and the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.