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Poor Night's Sleep Is Common

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 3 December 2021
Poor Night's Sleep Is Common

Although cancer does not directly affect sleep, the side effects of cancer treatment—both physical and emotional—can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

Cancer may affect sleep directly and indirectly, by the disease itself or indirectly through treatments, medication effects, stress, and anxiety.

Additionally, going to bed later than usual and/or getting a poor night's sleep are both associated with impaired glycaemic response to breakfast the following morning in healthy adults, according to a multiple test-meal challenge study conducted over 14 days.

"Our data suggest that sleep duration, efficiency, and midpoint are important determinants of postprandial glycaemic control at a population level," Neil Tsereteli, MD, Lund University Diabetes Centre, Malmo, Sweden, and colleagues observe in their article, published online November 30 in Diabetologia.

Cancer patients are often affected by physical impact of treatments or medications such as pain, hot flashes, and night sweats, which can affect their sleep. 

This is often worsened by the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis, which can lead to depression, fear, stress, or anxiety.

Hospitalisations, sleeping during the day, and altered sleep patterns also can affect sleep. These issues combined frequently lead to less sleep and, for patients who are sleeping, poorer quality sleep.

There are steps you can take to get back to a better night’s sleep: 

  • Treat the underlying causes of symptoms you may be experiencing
  • Being consistent with sleep and waking times, even on the weekends. Keep naps short (less than a hour) and earlier in the day
  • Create a bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath, drinking decaffeinated tea, or by doing something relaxing that doesn’t involve a computer, tablet, cell phone, or television
  • Creating a positive sleep environment. Your bedroom should be cool, with dim lighting, and comfortable bedding to create an environment conducive to sleep
  • Limiting your caffeine intake, especially before bed. Don’t drink any caffeinated beverages at least four hours before bed
  • Exercising regularly (at least a few hours prior to bedtime) for as little as 3 days a week for 30 minutes can make a difference                                     
  • If you’re still having trouble after putting these changes into practice, then it may be time for you to seek our recommendations.


Tsereteli, N., Vallat, R., Fernandez-Tajes, J. et al. Impact of insufficient sleep on dysregulated blood glucose control under standardised meal conditions. Diabetologia (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-021-05608-y

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsEvidence Based ResearchCancerSleep


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
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