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.