Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in cancer patients and survivors, says Memorial Sloan-Kettering sleep expert Amy Lowery. Chronic insomnia can lead to depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, memory and cognitive impairment, and other health problems.
To prevent insomnia, Dr. Lowery recommends maintaining a regular sleep schedule and adopting healthy sleep habits. These include limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption late in the day, avoiding nighttime exercise, relaxing before bed, and creating a comfortable sleep environment with limited exposure to light or light-emitting devices. Medication can help to relieve occasional insomnia, but long-term use of sleep drugs may pose the risk of side effects, dependence, and drug interactions. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be effective in treating chronic insomnia.