Best Practices

Sleeplessness a Nightmare for Many Cancer Patients

Published on

In Australia, after research showing 60% of callers to cancer support line “13 11 20″ reported insomnia symptoms, the Cancer Council Queensland has urged cancer patients and caregivers suffering from insomnia to seek help.

Of those surveyed, 28% of cancer patients and 32% of caregivers who called indicated they were suffering from moderate to severe insomnia.

Previous research shows insomnia rates are up to three times higher in cancer patients than the general population, and up to half of all caregivers also experience the condition.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift says the research showed a link between distress and insomnia, which had a significant impact on quality of life.

“Insomnia symptoms range from difficulty falling asleep, waking up too often during the night, and waking up early without going back to sleep, adversely impacting day-time activity,” Clift says in a release. “Cancer-related insomnia commonly occurs after initial surgery and continues for both patients and carers long after clinical treatment has been completed. Sleep disturbance can also cause depression, anxiety, and distress, with long-term impacts on quality of life and a person’s ‘normal’ daily functioning.

“We’re urging all Queenslanders affected by cancer who suffer from sleep disturbance or clinical insomnia to call 13 11 20 for support. 13 11 20 is staffed by health professionals waiting to take your call with free advice, resources, a listening ear, and the support you need to improve everyday life. Whether your sleep has been affected by hospitalization, physical discomfort or pain, treatment side effects, or stress–it’s important to reach out for help.”

In 2014, more than 18,400 calls were made to Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 in Queensland.