Georgia's Online Cancer Information Center

Sleep Issues

Sleep concerns have been found to be very common among cancer survivors. Survivors commonly note not being able to sleep as well as they did before their diagnosis or feeling tired no matter how much sleep is had. Sleep is important for many reasons and can affect our day-to-day more than we know. 

Quality rest improves:

  • Healthy brain function and emotional well-being
  • Physical health
  • Daytime performance and safety
  • Blood pressure
  • Helps us learn well, remember things and solve problems more effectively

If you are having difficulty sleeping, there are options for you to try in order to manage your sleep concerns:

  • Create a sleep hygiene plan with your care team. This may include perspectives from doctors, nurses, sleep specialists, social workers, therapists, pharmacists, dietitians and nutritionists. These professionals can offer lifestyle changes, medication changes, testing etc. to help you craft the plan that works best for you.
  • Relax before bedtime with music, meditation, a warm bath, guided imagery etc. 
  • Create movement through exercise. Exercise has been found to promote better sleep.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy may reduce anxiety around sleep and may help you fall asleep more easily.
  • Create a comfortable environment to help you sleep.
    • Dim or turn off the lights.
    • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature. Experts suggest high 60's with the optimal temperature being 65 degrees.
    • Sleep in loose and comfortable clothing.
    • Use supportive pillows in a comfortable position.
  • Speak to your providers about medication options that would be optimal for you.

Tiredness vs. Fatigue

Many survivors will experience tiredness and fatigue throughout the survivorship journey during treatment and potentially after treatment. Tiredness happens after exhausting energy throughout the day. Tiredness is different from fatigue which is continuous tiredness that cannot be resolved with rest.

Fatigue is one of the most common side effects and may be due to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Fatigue is an extreme feeling of tiredness or lack of energy, often described as being exhausted or "paralyzing". Fatigue is something that lasts even when a person seems to be getting enough sleep. Between 80% and 100% of people with cancer report having fatigue. (American Cancer Society) 

Symptoms of fatigue:

  • Feeling tired even after a good night's sleep
  • Feeling sleepy throughout the day
  • Feeling sudden, extreme tiredness
  • Feeling too weak to stand
  • Finding it difficult to start routine activities
  • Needing to stop in the middle of activities to rest
  • Not being able to do activities for very long
  • Difficulty concentrating>
  • Irritability

Managing Fatigue:

  • Exercise and yoga
  • Massage therapy
  • Counseling
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Adequate rest times, the National Sleep Foundation guidelines suggest that healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Limit overexertion and work if possible


Last Updated: 10/30/2020 9:34:03 AM

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Georgia CORE is a public-private partnership that creates collaboration among the state’s cancer organizations and institutions to connect more Georgians to quality, personalized cancer care. We welcome you to this one-of-a-kind online information center for all things related to cancer and survivorship care in Georgia.