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How to manage your sleep during NSCLC treatment

Man lying in bed with insomnia

Once you begin on a treatment path for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), you’ll likely start noticing a change in your sleep pattern. Poor sleep quality is very common for patients in treatment, and can lead to poorer quality of life (QOL) and respiratory symptoms when the issue is left untreated. Make sure to discuss any existing sleep issues with your doctor from the start, and then work together to prepare for any additional sleep disturbances that might come up throughout your treatment. 

In the meantime, try these tips for sleeping better:

Find new ways to relax

Low-impact activities such as meditation and yoga can help you stretch your joints and practice mindfulness at the same time. Download an app, take a class, or go on YouTube and find a short meditation that works for you, and your stress levels– and your schedule. 

Schedule rest time

If you’re feeling tired but still having trouble sleeping at night, try taking short naps throughout the day. Plan two or three short rests each day, no longer than an hour each. If you’re comfortable with mixing up your napping location, find a place to nap that’s not your bedroom, so you’re not as likely to just stay in bed – and then toss and turn – indefinitely. 

Take a short walk

Try and stay active, as much as you can, during the day. Consider taking a short walk a few hours before bedtime or even during the day, because any activity should help you not only sleep better at night but feel less tired during daytime hours, too. 

Try Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of relaxation therapy designed to teach you how to change negative thoughts you may have about sleep into positive ones. By working with a therapist to understand muscle relaxation and self-hypnosis, you may be better able to sleep moving forward.

See a sleep specialist 

Your care team might refer you to a sleep specialist or palliative care specialist, who can provide medication or other guidance to support any issues you’re having with sleep, as well help with appetite loss, nausea and other issues that are affecting your emotional and physical quality of life. 

In general, start setting better bedtime habits for yourself. Create a quiet and dark room, make a comfortable bed and turn off all devices hours before you get ready for bed. If your sleep patterns don’t improve, talk to your doctor about what’s next. 

If you would like to talk about your sleep challenges as well as discuss your treatment options, side effects or symptoms, you can connect with an Outcomes4Me oncology nurse practitioner at no charge through the Outcomes4Me app, using the “Ask Outcomes4Me” button.

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