How Cancer Affects Sleep Quality? and What Sleep Problems Are Common In People Being Treated For Cancer? Update 06/2024

Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of developing some types of cancer. However, sleep is also connected to cancer in other ways. Getting a good night’s sleep might be challenging during cancer treatment.

About one in four childhood cancer survivors reported difficulty falling and staying asleep in Kathryn Ruble, MSN, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Researchers believe that improving cancer survivors’ sleep could help them perform better in school, the workplace, and for the rest of their lives. Cancer and sleep deprivation are linked, but what can you do to avoid it? The following has been found by scientists.

Long stretches of shift work may increase cancer risk.

If the body’s “biological clock,” which regulates sleep and many other bodily functions, has been interrupted, these tumors may be more prone to occur. A decrease in melatonin levels due to working late into the night or being exposed to bright light for an extended length of time may promote the growth of cancer cells. It’s your decision: Following up on prescribed cancer screenings, including mammograms, colorectal cancer screening tests, and prostate checks advised by your doctor, is critical, according to Ruble. The ruble is of the opinion that.

Cancer therapy side effects and emotions can disrupt sleep.

Many of the adverse effects of cancer treatment might make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This includes symptoms such as worry and despair, tiredness, digestive system, respiratory problems, hot flashes, nocturnal sweat, as well as pain. You can choose from the following options: Let your doctor know that you’re having trouble sleeping. Request fewer sleep interruptions if you’re at a medical facility. Meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful in this regard. Consistently follow an asleep and waking-up routine. Reset your circadian rhythm by spending time in the fresh air or sitting at a sunny window during the day.

Insomnia can bother cancer survivors for years and even decades.

It’s no secret that sleep deprivation affects one’s ability to perform well in school or the workplace, says Ruble. In young survivors, we’re finding sleep disturbances that may have an impact on their academic performance, and we’d like to learn more about this.” You can choose from the following options: According to Ruble, activities that impair a good night’s sleep may also play a role in the long-term harmful consequences of medication.

She adds that staying up late to play video games or watch television might also be a problem. Many people across the world die and suffer from cancer, which is a huge public health problem. According to current projections, one in every two men and women1 will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. These astonishing figures will undoubtedly increase in the future due to an expanding and aging population.

To cause cancer, a person’s cells must proliferate abnormally and spread to other places of the body. Instead of being one disease, cancer can be caused by a wide range of variables. To better understand sleep’s role in overall health, researchers are also concentrating on its connection to cancer. A complex relationship has been established, despite the need for more investigation. Sleep disturbances may play a role in the development of several types of cancer. Cancer spread and treatment outcomes may be affected by several factors. Having cancer might cause sleep problems as a side effect, as well.

When a patient’s total well-being is negatively impacted by cancer symptoms and treatment side effects, the patient’s overall health suffers. Cancer survivors may find it difficult to sleep because of the physical and mental impacts of the disease. Learning about the complex relationship between cancer and sleep might benefit one’s health in a variety of ways. It’s difficult to prevent cancer entirely, but getting adequate sleep is thought to lessen one’s risk. The physical and mental well-being of cancer patients may be improved by better sleep, which may make it easier for them to deal with the disease.

Can Sleep Affect Cancer?

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to our well-being, and we know it. Various functions of the body are affected by sleep, and cancer may be affected in a variety of ways. It is possible that sleep has an impact on cancer risk via influencing the brain, immune system, hormone synthesis and control, metabolism, and body weight.

It is possible that sleep alters the environment in which cells operate and the signals that control how they grow. The following sections provide an overview of current research on the potential effects of sleep on cancer risk, progression, and treatment, even though this is still a developing topic. A consultation with a physician is recommended for anyone concerned about the quality of their sleep or their risk of cancer.

Sleep and Cancer Risk

Research has found a link between cancer risk and sleep duration, quality, circadian rhythm, and difficulties. A lack of long-term data on sleep may explain why research in this field doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny.

Sleep Duration

Studies on the link between sleep duration and cancer risk have revealed a wide range of findings. Due to the methods used to collect data, the cancer types analyzed, and other variables that may influence cancer risk, different results could be obtained. Recent research shows that those who sleep less than six hours each night are at greater risk of mortality from any cause, and they are also more likely to develop cancer. Colon polyps, which can lead to cancer, are more likely to grow in people who get less than seven hours of sleep per night.

Studies have found a link between reduced sleep duration in the elderly and an increased risk of stomach cancer, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, and cancers of the head and neck. However, the results of these examinations are still inconclusive. Lung cancer has not been demonstrated to be affected by a lack of sleep, according to current research. Many studies have shown that cancer risk is lower in people who sleep for fewer than seven or eight hours per night.

A lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in “wear and tear” on cells, which could lead to DNA damage that can lead to cancer in animals, according to a new study. Even though human research has yet to prove this decisively, sleep and cancer may be connected. In addition, a lack of sleep may raise one’s chance of acquiring cancer by virtue of its effect on the immune system. Insufficient sleep has been proven to be associated with obesity, a well-documented risk factor for a wide range of malignancies.

People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from immune system problems, such as chronic inflammation, which may increase their risk of cancer. According to several research, those who sleep more than nine hours a night are more likely to develop cancer. Colorectal cancer was found to be more common in elderly people who slept less, particularly those who were obese or snorers. For women with estrogen-driven breast cancer, an increased risk of primary liver cancer and sleep deprivation have been found to go hand in hand.

Sleep Quality

To accurately assess the impact of sleep quality on cancer risk over the long term, it is even more difficult to measure sleep duration than sleep quality. Mice’s tumor growth and progression were accelerated when their sleep was fragmented. An observational study including over 10,000 persons over the age of 50 found that those who rated their sleep quality as poor or ordinary had a higher risk of cancer. Additionally, nearly 4,000 women were studied for the possibility of a link between sleeplessness and a particularly dangerous kind of breast cancer known as triple-negative. Men with sleep disorders have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, and those with the most severe sleep problems face the highest danger. As with the amount of time spent sleeping, more research is needed to replicate and verify these findings. For example, future studies may reveal that the number and length of sleep interruptions may have an impact on the chance of developing specific types of cancer.

Circadian Rhythm

The circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock, is a 24-hour cycle. As the day progresses, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain controls the body’s internal clock, sending forth signals that affect how we feel and what we do. For this reason, people who aren’t exposed to artificial light quickly adapt to a daily schedule of waking up during the day and going to sleep at night. Because of things like exposure to artificial light, night shifts at work, and frequent time zone travel, circadian rhythms in modern society can get out of sync with the natural cycles of day and night.

Researchers are discovering that circadian disruption may have a role in the development of cancer. Circadian signals play a crucial role in the division and development of cells. There is a risk of mutation and DNA damage as a result of this. Circadian rhythm affects the body’s hormone production and metabolism, as well as the immune system. Breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and colon cancers could be affected by the disruption of the circadian rhythm, which affects many different biological systems.

People who work shifts are more prone to develop cancer as a result of the circadian mismatch. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified shift work as “probably carcinogenic” (IARC). Some studies believe that exposure to carcinogens disrupts circadian cycles, increasing one’s susceptibility to other risk factors.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Research into the connection between sleep disorders and cancer has primarily focused on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (OSA). During a sleepless night, the body’s ability to absorb oxygen decreases, resulting in a state known as hypoxia. Studies in animals have demonstrated that sleep apnea and its related hypoxia (deficiency of oxygen in the blood) can accelerate tumor growth. Both in humans and animals, sleep apnea has been related to an increased risk of cancer.

A lack of cancer-fighting ability is exacerbated by hyperoxia because it alters the immune system’s ability to respond to cancer cells. Because tumors contain areas of low oxygen, hypoxia-induced sleep apnea may raise one’s risk of cancer. There has been no definitive proof that OSA is linked to cancer risk because of these multiple molecular mechanisms. Many big, long-term studies in the United States and Spain have found that those with moderate to severe OSA are at an elevated risk of dying from cancer. In smaller studies, OSA has been connected to breast cancer.

OSA has been linked to cancers of the prostate, uterus, lung, thyroid, and kidney, as well as malignant melanoma. Though some studies have found an association between OSA and an increased risk of cancer and death, others have found a negative correlation between OSA and a decreased incidence of cancer among its sufferers. Data on which patients had OSA therapy is lacking, and OSA is associated with a number of other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and obesity or diabetes, could explain some of the study’s inconsistencies.

Sleep and Cancer Progression

The quality of a person’s sleep may influence the growth and progression of cancer. Studies on the impact of sleep on hormones and metabolism and inflammation may have an impact on cancer’s aggressiveness, but more research is needed to prove this potential link.

Breast cancer patients who sleep more than nine hours a night are more likely to die from the disease and other reasons. Researchers have discovered a relationship between irregular sleep patterns and a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence.

Sleep deprivation as a child has been linked to an increased chance of mortality from colorectal cancer, although no clear link has been established. obstructive sleep apnea may have an impact on the course of cancer because tumors are more easily metastasized in the presence of hypoxia and fragmented sleep.

Sleep and Cancer Treatment

If we can better understand circadian rhythms, we may be able to improve cancer therapy outcomes for patients with cancer. Cancer cells may be more or less resistant to therapy depending on the time of day the drug is given. Cancer medicines that target specific proteins, enzymes, receptors, or enzymes are influenced by the cicada’s natural rhythms.

Radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are all made more effective with the help of chronotherapy, a cancer treatment method that takes advantage of the circadian rhythm of the patient. It’s currently in the works. Chronotherapy, according to certain hypotheses, could enable cancer treatments kill more cancer cells while causing less harm to healthy tissue than existing procedures. Our increased knowledge of circadian rhythms may also be used to develop new cancer-fighting drugs. Many forms of cancer have been shown to benefit from circadian timing, and early-stage trials show encouraging results.

The ability of cancer patients to have a decent night’s sleep may influence their recovery and treatment response. Women who have trouble sleeping before a surgical procedure for breast cancer have been found to have an increased risk of complications and a lengthier hospital stay. According to research, obstructive sleep apnea may impair the efficacy of a number of cancer treatments. Several types of chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be less successful if the tumor tissue’s oxygen levels are disrupted by respiratory problems.

Sleep, Hormones, and Cancer

When cortisol levels are high, certain “natural killer” cells are released. This regulates the body’s immune system, which is crucial in the fight against cancer. Cortisol levels rise early in the morning after a long night’s sleep then diminish during the day.

Female night shift workers are more likely to experience a “shifted cortisol cycle,” in which their cortisol levels peak in the afternoon, compared to those who sleep during the day. These women have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than other women, according to numerous studies.

According to him, persons who experience frequent nighttime awakenings have more irregular patterns of cortisol production.

Stress hormone cortisol may play a role in the start or worsening of cancer and other disorders, among other things.

One of the sleep-related hormones is Melatonin. Because of its antioxidant properties, brain-produced melatonin during sleep may assist to prevent cell damage that can lead to cancer.

Ovarian estrogen production can also be reduced by taking Melatonin. As a result, the hormone melatonin is depleted when people don’t get enough sleep. By exposing women to elevated estrogen levels, this sequence of events may increase the risk of breast cancer.

According to Spiegel, women who work night shifts have lower levels of melatonin production.

For cancer, “sleep can signal an increased rate of development because of the changes in hormonal rhythm that occur.”

If you allow yourself to do so, learning how to get a good night’s sleep is simple. When they are unwell, they take on too much and don’t give their bodies enough time to recover. To put it another way, this is a huge issue for cancer patients. These people are preoccupied with keeping up with their daily activities in order not to bother their family members or loved ones.”

That much is obvious from his research, which appeared in the October issue of the journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity. Cancer patients’ prognoses may be affected by their quality of sleep, according to a new study.

Sleep, Stress, and Cancer

Other studies have found that cancer patients who are able to manage their stress through methods such as group therapy, strong personal social bonds, or regular physical activity perform better than those who aren’t.

Disruptions to sleep are characteristic of both depression and anxiety.

According to Spiegel, “having a bad night of sleep makes it harder to deal with stress.” A good night’s sleep is more likely for people who can deal with stress better than others.

Swedish researchers found that women who are constantly on edge may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who remain cool in the face of hardship.

One of Spiegel’s advice for cancer patients is stress management. A healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and regular exercise will help your body better fight cancer if you heed your grandmother’s recommendations,

Overstating the significance of good sleep hygiene in cancer treatment is possible. “No,” says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society,

Yet, should people have that in mind when making decisions? Yes, according to what I’ve heard.

There is enough data to support the hypothesis that our bodies response to cancer is influenced by more than just surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. If you’re feeling stressed or sleep-deprived, it’s important to pay attention to both of these factors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep and Cancer Risk

Does Sleeping With a Light on Increase Cancer Risk?

Even while the evidence isn’t conclusive, some research suggests that nighttime exposure to artificial light may affect cancer risk. In the dark, the body’s circadian clock is helped by melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, which is produced. In animal studies, melatonin has been proven to suppress tumor growth and aid in DNA repair. When it comes to cancer and other health issues, it’s possible that sleeping with the lights on can alter normal circadian cycles.

While the risk of breast cancer decreased in those who slept in a bedroom with a lot of artificial light, the chance of prostate cancer increased. Light exposure during sleep may be associated with an increased risk of cancer, however, the evidence to support this claim is mixed.

Can You Get Cancer by Sleeping Next to Your Phone?

It is safe to use your phone when you are sleeping. Cell phone radiation, also known as non-ionizing radiation, has not been shown to cause DNA damage. Warmth is the only known biological effect of cell phone radiation. Using a cell phone has not been linked to an increased risk of brain tumors or any other form of cancer, according to the latest findings from researchers.

Even while there is no conclusive link between cell phones and cancer, some experts advise against using a cell phone near your ear for long periods of time. A nightstand or a drawer may be the best place to keep your phone. Additionally, technology in the bedroom might interrupt sleep and make it simpler to fall asleep if you don’t bring it with you to bed.

Does Sleeping With a Bra Cause Breast Cancer?

Wearing a bra to bed does not increase your risk of getting cancer. Abra does not enhance the risk of developing breast cancer in any manner, and there is no rational biological explanation for why this may cause DNA mutations in cells that are necessary to start cancer.

How Cancer Affects Sleep Quality

Cancer patients may have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night. Approximately half of all cancer patients are likely to suffer from sleep difficulties. According to some studies, up to 70% of women with breast and gynecological cancers have trouble sleeping. More than two-thirds of individuals with advanced cancer have been shown to suffer from disrupted sleep. It’s possible that these estimates are understated because many cancer patients don’t bring up sleep concerns with their doctors. People with cancer may have trouble sleeping for a number of different causes, including the following:

  • Pain or discomfort that may be caused by a tumor or its treatment.
  • Gastrointestinal and urogenital symptoms associated with cancer.
  • Hospitalized, I’m having difficulties sleeping.
  • Stress, worry, and melancholy are common cancer-related symptoms.
  • There is a risk of infection and fever as a result of chemotherapy.
  • a runny nose or a hard time breathing.
  • Painkillers can cause drowsiness and sleep deprivation as well as other negative effects.
  • Snoozing throughout the day leads to a disrupted sleep routine.

Cancer, therapy, and general health — including pre-existing conditions — can all affect how well someone sleeps. Cancer and its treatment might also cause other sorts of sleep disruptions. Restless legs, or the need to move one’s legs when lying down, is a common complaint among cancer patients. If you have a malignant tumor in your neck or jaw, jaw surgery may result in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

What sleep problems are common in people being treated for cancer?

It is common for cancer patients to suffer from insomnia, which is the inability to get or stay asleep.

What causes sleep problems?

Sleep disturbances can be caused by treatment, medicine, long hospital stays, stress, and other factors. Approximately half of all cancer patients are affected by sleep disorders while undergoing treatment, according to a study.

How are sleep problems assessed?

When a polysomnogram is used to accurately identify and treat any sleep condition, your doctor or a sleep specialist can use it to get the best results. In the event that the patient’s sleep issues worsen, additional evaluations may be required. Find out if a sleep study is right for you, what to expect, and what your doctor may prescribe afterward. Find out more here.

Why is a good night’s sleep important?

Your physical and mental health depends on getting enough sleep at night. A good night’s sleep helps you focus better, lowers your blood pressure, increases your appetite, and strengthens your immune system. Anxiety and depression are more common in people who suffer from long-term sleep disorders.

Ways to manage sleep problems

Do not hesitate to seek the advice of your medical team if you are having difficulty sleeping. There are steps you and your medical team can take to help you sleep better again.

  • If you’re having difficulties getting a decent night’s sleep, go to your doctor. Therapy may help you sleep better if you’re experiencing pain or other side effects, such as urinary and bladder issues or diarrhea.
  • Stress management techniques, such as CBT, may be useful. These techniques can help you unwind and de-stress. In the case of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, the therapist can help you build new, more positive sleep beliefs and thoughts. It is possible to use muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and self-hypnosis as tools to help you recover from your injuries.
  • Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time for yourself. Make sure you’re in a dark, tranquil area with a sturdy mattress when it’s time to go to sleep. Stop trying to sleep and come back to bed when you’re ready to sleep again. To ensure a restful night’s sleep, put away your electronic devices at least a couple of hours before you plan to retire for the night. Avoid overindulging in food or drink just before turning in for the night. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you may suffer from sleep deprivation.
  • In some circumstances, sleep aids may be prescribed. You may be prescribed a short-term prescription of sleep medicine by your doctor if nothing else works for you. Taking a sleep aid may be prescribed by your doctor if you are having trouble falling or staying asleep.

Talking with your health care team about sleep problems

Make a list of the questions you want to ask before you go. Here are a few things to think about including in your checklist:

  • What’s wrong with me that I can’t get to sleep?
  • Honestly, I don’t know what to say to you.
  • A better night’s sleep is something that I would like to achieve.
  • Do you know of any sleep specialists who might be able to help me with my problems?
  • Does using a sleeping tablet sound like the best course of action for me?

Improving Sleep and Coping With Cancer

Anyone suffering from insomnia due to cancer should consult with a physician who can explain their symptoms, the underlying causes, and the most effective treatment options. The harmful effects of sleep deprivation on cancer patients’ physical and emotional health are well-known.

Both psychotherapy and medication can help you get a decent night’s sleep. To improve sleep and mood, as well as strengthen the immune system, CBT-I has been found to be effective in trials including women with breast cancer.

CBT-I maybe even more effective when used in conjunction with medicines to improve sleep and overall well-being. Oncology patients may benefit from improving their sleep hygiene, which includes their bedroom and bedtime rituals. An inviting bed and bedroom, consistent sleep routines, and minimizing electronic device used in the hours leading up tonight are a few examples of these benefits.

Sleep and Cancer Survivorship

There are numerous ways in which receiving a cancer diagnosis might alter a person’s outlook on life. Cancer survivors encounter numerous challenges as a result of the disease’s and treatment’s long-term physical and emotional effects. After a six-month to the five-year period following their diagnosis, breast cancer survivors reported trouble sleeping. The quality of one’s sleep is critically important to one’s overall health. Childhood cancer survivors may need to handle their sleep concerns in a special way.

Physical and mental development are just two of the long-term effects of childhood cancer and its treatment. If you get enough sleep, you can help alleviate these side effects and boost your immune system at the same time. Assemble a wellness program with your doctor that includes more than just sleep, such as a healthy diet and regular physical activity, and be sure to keep all of your scheduled appointments. For better sleep, it is possible to add these activities into this strategy.

Sleep and Cancer Caregivers

Caregivers may experience sleep problems as a result of taking care of a loved one with cancer. Study participants reported trouble sleeping at least 89 percent of the time. Several reasons might contribute to caregivers’ sleep issues, such as disrupted sleep owing to caregiving responsibilities, increased stress, and concern, and a lack of time to take care of one’s own well-being.

Sleep deprivation can worsen feelings of depression and diminish a nurse’s ability to provide high-quality care. It is crucial for carers to maintain a regular sleep routine and take care of their own needs. It is possible to outsource some aspects of caregiving to other family members, friends, or neighborhood groups, allowing the caregiver to spend more time on their own physical and emotional health.

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