- Question from Kaitleigh: My chemo treatments have been over for four weeks. I'm still having trouble sleeping through the night. How long will it be before I sleep normally again?
- Answers - Russell Portenoy The relationship between sleep and fatigue is so very poorly understood. There is provocative evidence in a population of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome that sleep disturbance is at least a common accompaniment in fatigue if not important in causing it. Physicians who treat women with cancer related fatigue that there appear to be patients that have non-restorative sleep or actual insomnia and the fatigue appears to improve if the sleep disturbance is treated either with a drug or a non-pharmacological approach although the scientific evidence is limited, it is important for a patient who is fatigued or an insomniac or who has non-restorative sleep to have the sleep problem evaluated by a physician and be offered some strategies to improve this. The question concerning the length of time that sleep disturbance will continue after treatment is, to my knowledge, unresolved. This is an area that clearly needs much more research. Just as fatigue can be a problem related to another contributing factor, it's also important to keep in mind that sleep disturbance itself may have contributing causes that can be addressed. Anxiety, depression, the use of medications that impairs sleep and many other factors could be responsible for the sleep problem, and the fatigue, possibly could be a secondary phenomenon related to the sleep disturbance.
- Lillian Nail Sometimes it helps to keep a sleep diary so you can understand how often you are awakening, how long it takes you to get back to sleep and how long it takes you to fall asleep when you first go to bed. Sometimes people are able to identify problems, like family members who are coming in to check on them, high caffeine foods that they are eating before bedtime that they didn't used to eat, increased frequency of urination or pain or discomfort that would trigger an awakening.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Ease Fatigue, Boost Energy featured Lillian Nail, Ph.D., R.N., Russel Portenoy, M.D., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about ways to manage fatigue and increase energy levels.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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