Problems Sleeping Bother Both Cancer Patients and Survivors

Nearly one in three people with cancer, both with those with active cancer and cancer survivors, report  having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much.

Pain and emotional distress were often associated with sleep problems.

When researchers in Scotland asked 2,862 patients “Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much?”

  • 34.5 percent with active cancer said yes.
  • 28.0 percent of cancer survivors also answered yes.

In addition, patients who said they had sleep problems were almost three times as likely to to have pain (odds ratio 2.7) and nearly five times as likely to have emotional distress (odds ratio 4.5).

The team at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow concluded,

Sleep problems are common in cancer outpatients and are strongly associated with pain and emotional distress. A combined approach to the management of sleep, pain and emotional distress is indicated.


Sharma N. et al, Psycho-Oncology, Early View, July 1, 2011.  doi: 10.1002/pon.2004


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