Asked by Ydnar2xer on Saturday, October 6, 2012


    Is anyone in chemo right now getting any sleep? I have tried lots of remedies, but find I can only sleep about 4 hours a night--and even then, I wake up every hour or so. (Steroids--gotta love 'em.) Then I want to nap, but if I do, the horrid pattern remains...no sleep at night! Any suggestions?

    17 Answers from the Community

    17 answers
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Ah Insomnia, the bane of my existence - sounds like we are having the same pattern. Speak to your doctor, when I did he lowered the dose of steroids, which did help a bit, but the first 2-3 days after the infusion are the worst. Also anything that disrupts your bed time/nap time routine can really upset your sleep cycle. I was in the ER from 8PM Wed-3AM Thursday (nothing serious, but when your on chemo they send you to the ER first, just in case), as a result I have been having even more problems sleeping. BTW I have found some relief during my off week. If and when I find the "magic" remedy you will be the first to know.

      about 4 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      Ack! No sleep during chemo, because although the chemo meds exhaust, the steroid causes insomnia. So crappy! The compazine for nausea made me sleepy and helped put me to sleep but that was just the night of the chemo, since I didn't need the compazine after the first night. I usually took a restoril or just a benadryl. Since I was running a summer camp durng the time I was on chemo, I was working 10 hour days, there was no rest for the weary. I hated to medicate myself to sleep but I needed my rest. I know there are some herbal remedies and supplements but they didn't really work for me. Now that I am on Tamoxifen, I am sleepless due to feeling like I am on fire every night, sweating through the sheets...ugh. Cancer sucks, my friend.

      about 4 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      During his first cancer, dad was using Benadryl at the advice of the doctor, to help with sleep. This time around, he's able to adjust his pain medicine to have a better sleep. But he still has sleep disturbances. He still has nights when he sleeps well.

      about 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      This is a great point about the steroids, and another thing that people need to know before they start their treatments.

      The steroids almost drove me batty in my office one day. I was so keyed up I couldn't stay sitting at my desk. I had to get up and walk in circles around the office hallway. My doctor decreased the dose by half, that cleared me up in a day or so.

      This seems to be a common problem with people here.

      Thanks for posting.
      Greg P
      Team WhatNext

      about 4 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      Steroids bothered me for the first night following chemo. I took a large dose of xanax to make me sleepy.

      about 4 years ago
    • teddyfuzz's Avatar

      I feel your pain, my dear. Chemo has a way of really effing things up. My doctor prescribed Ambien for me to help me sleep and it worked like a charm. I figured with all the other medications that were being put in my body, one more wasn't going to hurt anything. Ambien and Percocet were my best friends during chemo. Good luck.

      about 4 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had horrid insomnia....I used Ativan and sleeping pills...for me Ambien was the best....some people like melatonin, but it didn't work for me.....

      about 4 years ago
    • Modern's Avatar

      Hey I've had awful sleep patterns to what I did that really helped was A I cut out all caffeine B I took two tylonal pm's with a large glass of milk about an hour before bed and if I still couldn't sleep take an ambiem but I don't have to do that most nights. It really helped me. Hope you start sleeping better :)

      about 4 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      i tried ambien - nnnnoooo llliiikeeeeee!
      xanax was better for me. i think the main reason i wasn't sleeping well (once the steroids wore off) was anxiety. the xanax helped my mind calm, which then allowed me to sleep. i'm now off it.

      i do find that exercise helps tremendously. if i don't exercise, i am very restless at night. even just a modest amount of exercise will make a difference.

      another thing that helps me is to simply get something done. that way, when i'm trying to sleep, i can reflect on something that went RIGHT. that helps with the anxiety, which helps with general mind calming.

      melatonin does work for me, and i use it occasionally when i feel like i'm going to have a second night of poor sleep...

      insomnia... it sucks. i wrote an awful lot of my blog posts at 3 or 4 in the morning... and read a lot of books. and watched quite a bit of netflix. i'm happy to report that my sleep habits are quite similar to pre-diagnosis...

      good luck.

      about 4 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      So sorry you are experiencing this. I tried everything, finally just went into a bedroom by myself, darkened by shades, turned on the fan for some noise and just lay there. I had to work at shutting off my head, you know, the thoughts and fears. My doctor prescibed some Xanax which helped a little bit. I tried for some quiet time during the day, the same routine, and once in a while I'd nod off for an hour or so. Sorry I can't be of more help.

      about 4 years ago
    • whirl's Avatar

      Like you the steriods left me wired. I would go to the gym giving the eliptical a work out like no tomorrow. I would leave high on endorphins and exhausted. Sleep was not a problem. Like always get MD ok.

      about 4 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Thank you all for your good ideas on combating insomnia. I took a short walk yesterday AND drugged up (just lorazapam & benadryl) and actually slept for about 6 hours straight! What a tremendous difference in how I feel today! I will ask onc about decreasing steroids a bit, though, on Tuesday for next chemo. Thanks again!

      about 4 years ago
    • Bellingham's Avatar

      My Doctor prescribed generic Ativan, and I find that helps. Otherwise, I'm awake all night and tired all day. The steriods are unpleasant. Hope that this can help you.

      about 4 years ago
    • debsweb18's Avatar

      I didn't have chemo, but have always had insomnia made worse by menopause and then Arimidex and Femara. Melatonin doesn't work for me. Benydryl, Tylenol PM and Restoril act like a depressant after taking several night. I don't like Ambien. So... I take Lunesta every night. Can't just take it every once in a while because of the rebound effect. I figure taking a drug is not as bad as not sleeping at all. If I have trouble winding down, I found the best thing is Traditional brand "Nighty Night" tea. It contains passionflower. it's usually in the health food section. I order 6 boxes at a time at Amazon at a reduced rate.

      BTW, Lunesta used to and still may have a coupon on its website that covers up to $50 copay every month for a year. I haven't had to pay out of pocket for it for over a year now.

      Hope this helps.

      about 4 years ago
    • pll's Avatar

      Yes, this is an unfortunate side effect. Ask for a sleeping aid, i.e. Ambien or something similar. I also was prescribed Xanex towards the end of my chemo as it felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. and if you take Tamoxifen afterwards, you'll need something to help with the heat. I wouldn't call them hot "flashes" it's more like hot "constant". but that slows down after the Tamoxifen stops. good luck.

      about 4 years ago
    • diannemonroe's Avatar

      I was on 2 or 3 nausea meds, and anti-anxiety, and still, no sleep. Benedryl is the only thing that helped me sleep. Ask your doctor is Benedryl is okay for you.

      about 4 years ago
    • workit's Avatar

      I spoke with a cancer and circadian rhythm researcher about this because I too had sleep problems. Cancer and it's treatments can disrupt the circadian rhythm. He said:

      sleep in a cool room

      get the room as dark as possible

      cover green, blue, or red lights (alarm clocks, thermostats, etc.)

      exercise but not in the evening

      less carbohydrates at the evening meal

      go to bed at the same time each night

      take melatonin, 3mg (we produce less as we age)

      I fall asleep much quicker now but still am dealing with regular 2-4 a.m. 'anxiety' type awakenings. When this occurs I've been trying some distraction techniques which are helping with quieting my mind and getting back to sleep. Understanding habits has helped, although not a cancer specific book, the The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg has been informative.

      about 4 years ago

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