We all need an adequate amount of sleep for our overall health, but for people with breast cancer, sleep is even more crucial.
“Studies show about one-third of individuals treated for cancer experience anxiety that impacts their quality of life,” says Katherine Walsh, PhD, LICSW. “Worrying about health, the emotional impact of your cancer on your family, financial costs of treatment, and whether your life will be shortened are all very common concerns among individuals with cancer.”
A study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine in 2021 assessed the sleep patterns of 460 women with breast cancer and found that almost 80 percent of the participants experienced insomnia symptoms.
Are you suffering from insomnia?
Do you find yourself lying in bed tossing and turning most days of the week for at least three months? Does it take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep? Do you wake up in the middle of the night for at least 30 minutes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you likely have insomnia.
But even if you don’t answer yes to these questions, you should still consult with an expert if you are feeling dissatisfied with your sleep. He or she can help figure out what is going on with you.
Another sign that sleep may be affecting you?
An increase in irritability, fatigue, a depressed mood, and anxiety during the day are all signs that it’s time to get help.
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Tips for fighting insomnia
Having trouble fighting insomnia? Oxana Palesh, PhD, MPH, a professor in the department of psychiatry and director of the Palesh Cancer Survivorship Laboratory in the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, offers these tips: