- Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families
- Anxiety and fear
- Appetite, poor
- Blood counts
- Blood in stool
- Blood in urine
- Fluids and dehydration
- Grooming and appearance
- Hair loss
- Leg cramps
- Mouth, bleeding in
- Mouth dryness
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Scars and wounds
- Shortness of breath
- Skin color changes
- Skin dryness
- Skin (pressure) sores
- Sleep problems
- Steroids and hormones
- Stomas (or ostomies)
- Swallowing problems
- Treatment at home
- Tubes and IV lines
- Weight changes
- When death is approaching
- To learn more
Sleep problems can be defined as a change in usual sleeping habits. People who are getting treatment for cancer may get tired more easily and may need to sleep more than usual. Sometimes, the opposite problem occurs and people may have trouble sleeping. Reasons for changes in usual sleeping habits include pain, anxiety, worry, depression (see the related sections), night sweats, or side effects of treatment or prescription drugs.
What the patient can do
- Sleep as much as your body tells you to, but when you are awake, try to exercise at least once a day. Do this at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. (See the section called "Exercise.")
- Avoid drinks with caffeine for 6 to 8 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks in the late evening. They can keep you awake as they "wear off."
- Drink warm, caffeine-free drinks, such as warm milk with honey or decaf tea, before sleep.
- Use a quiet setting for rest during the same period of time each day.
- Take sleeping medicine or pain relievers prescribed by the doctor at the same time each night. If pain keeps you awake, see the section called "Pain."
- Have someone give you backrubs or massage your feet before bedtime.
- Keep sheets clean, neatly tucked in, and as free from wrinkles as possible.
- Talk with your doctor about relaxation therapy or a referral to a hypnotherapist.
What caregivers can do
- Help keep the room as quiet and comfortable as possible during sleep times.
- Offer gentle backrubs or foot massages near bedtime.
- Offer a light bedtime snack.
- Let the doctor know if the patient appears to be confused during the night.
Call the doctor if the patient:
- Is confused at night
- Is unable to sleep at all during the night
Last Medical Review: 03/24/2011
Last Revised: 08/11/2011