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Sleep Issues and Breast Cancer

Posted on November 09, 2018


Have you experienced insomnia during and after breast cancer treatment? You’re not alone. Sleeplessness is a hot topic on MyBCTeam. “Between anxiety, drug side effects, and pain since BC, I found it almost impossible to sleep,” wrote one member. “I’m up every single morning at 2 a.m.,” said another woman. Members share a wide range of medications, natural remedies, and relaxation tools that help them sleep. They include:

  • Foods high in natural sleep promoters such as tryptophan (turkey), melatonin (tart cherry juice), and magnesium
  • Teas and tinctures that contain calming herbs, such as valerian root and ashwagandha (often used to reduce side effects on cancer drugs)
  • Antihistamines (such as Benadryl) that promote sleep
  • Warm baths, cool bedrooms, blue-light blocking glasses, yoga and meditation apps

Many members swear by prescription sleep and anti-anxiety medications but worry about potential risks. Melatonin, too, has many fans on MyBCTeam. “The only thing that assures me a good night sleep is melatonin and a muscle relaxer,” shared one member.

Women who use cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) oil where legally available – often report success. “Cannabis is the only thing that allows me to sleep since being diagnosed and going through chemo. I ditched all the pills,” said one member. “CBD oil brought me sleep and peace,” agreed another.

Talking about better sleep with members of a support group can bring much-needed comfort and relief. Always check with your physician and care team about the safety and efficacy of any new sleep medication or supplement.

On MyBCTeam, the social network and online support group for women facing breast cancer, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Sleep issues are one of the most discussed topics.

Here are some conversations about sleep:

"I have a wedge pillow that helped me get through recovery. It allowed me to get semi-comfortable and get some sleep."

"I had amazing sleep!!! Sleep is the wonder 'drug' - it’s amazing how sleep can make everything better!"

"Been somewhat incapacitated by chronic insomnia. I know that sounds small compared to what we have gone through with cancer, but believe me, it has me unable to function."

Here are some question-and-answer threads about sleep issues:

Can Tamoxifen induce insomnia?

I am having trouble sleeping, getting back to sleep through the night and sometimes falling asleep. Any advice?

What do you do to sleep well at night?

Can you relate?

Have another topic you'd like to discuss or explore? Go to MyBCTeam today and start the conversation. You'll be surprised just how many others may share similar stories.

Feel free to ask a question here.

A MyBCTeam Member said:

I am on an AI now. Was on Tamoxifen for 1.5 years. Sleep is so hard for me!! Is it OK to take Simply Sleep or Unisom while on Letrozole. I do not want… read more

posted 5 days ago

hug

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