Occasionally having trouble sleeping is normal for most people. Everyday stress, heartburn, or too much caffeine or alcohol all can make it hard to fall asleep.
Insomnia is different. If you frequently can't fall asleep, can't stay asleep, or don't get enough sleep to be rested, you may have insomnia. Insomnia can affect your mood and energy levels, cause fatigue, and make it hard to think and concentrate.
Insomnia can be caused by the following breast cancer treatments:
- Ixempra (chemical name: ixabepilone), a chemotherapy medicine
- Tykerb (chemical name: lapatinib), a targeted therapy
- hormonal therapy:
Some pain medications also can cause sleeping problems.
If you're having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about techniques to help you relax. Your doctor can tell you if a prescription or over-the-counter sleeping aid may be right for you. If a pain medicine is causing your sleeping problems, your doctor can tell you if you can take a different one.
You also can try these tips to help you relax and fall asleep more easily:
- Don't nap during the day. If you must take a nap, don’t sleep more than 1 hour and don’t nap after 3 p.m.
- Exercise during the day to help make yourself tired, relieve stress, and improve your mood. To make sure you're not still revved up from exercising when you try to sleep, it's best to exercise about 5 or 6 hours before bedtime.
- Wind down at night. Don’t exercise, talk on the phone, or watch television before you go to bed.
- Relax by taking a warm bath or having your partner give you a back massage.
- Use your bed for sleeping only. Don’t read, watch television, or listen to music in bed.
- Read before bed. Try reading a dull book or a book you've read before that you find soothing -- but don’t read in bed.
- Don't drink a lot of water or anything else before going to bed. This reduces your need to urinate in the middle of the night.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to get your body on a healthy sleep schedule.
- Avoid alcohol. It may help you fall asleep but it can make you wake up in the middle of the night.
- Quit smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant and can keep you awake.
- Cut down on caffeine, especially after noon. This includes coffee, soda, chocolate, and tea.
- Keep your bedroom dark and quiet to get the best rest.
- Hide the clocks in your bedroom. You won’t be as anxious about falling asleep if you don’t know what time it is.
- Try silicone earplugs if noise is keeping you up at night.
For more tips, ask the members of the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards for advice.