Getting a good night’s sleep is important for maintaining your energy levels, reducing fatigue, and improving mood. Difficulty sleeping may be caused by pain, breathlessness, anxiety or depression. Some medicines can also disrupt sleep. If you already had sleep problems before the lung cancer diagnosis, these can become worse.
Talk to your doctor about what might be helpful for you. Your medicines may need adjusting or sleep medicines may be an option. There are also a number of strategies that other people with cancer have found helpful.
Getting a better night’s sleep
Try to do some gentle physical activity every day. Exercising may help you to sleep better. An exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can tailor an exercise program for you. For more on this, see Exercise and cancer.
- Limit or cut out alcohol, caffeinated drinks, nicotine and spicy food.
- Avoid watching television or using a computer, smartphone or tablet before bed, as their light tells your body it’s time to wake up.
- Follow a regular routine before bed and set up a calm sleeping environment. Ensure the room is dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature.
- Practise mindfulness, such as listening to a meditation or relaxation recording. Or listen to gentle relaxation music.
Podcast: Sleep and Cancer
A/Prof Brett Hughes, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncologist, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Dr Brendan Dougherty, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Specialist, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Kim Greco, Nurse Consultant – Lung Cancer, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Dr Susan Harden, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Rohit Joshi, Medical Oncologist, GenesisCare and Lyell McEwin Hospital, Director, Cancer Research SA; Kathlene Robson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council ACT; Peter Spolc, Consumer; Nicole Taylor, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Cancer Specialist Nurse, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Rosemary Taylor, Consumer; A/Prof Gavin M Wright, Director of Surgical Oncology, St Vincent’s Hospital and Research and Education Lead – Lung Cancer, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.