According to the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, it is estimated that between 36-59% of cancer patients experience sleep issues and insomnia during, and after cancer treatment. These sleep issues are mostly due to pain or side effects of treatment.
However, one study is confirming that both cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can improve the sleep of cancer patients.
Currently, CBT-I is considered the most standard treatment for cancer patients, but in previous studies MBSR has been shown to lower stress levels and improve the mental health of patients with cancer. This study is the first to compare the success of MBSR to CBT-1.
The study included 111 cancer patients from a cancer treatment center in Canada. Randomly assigned, 47 patients underwent CBT-I and 64 underwent MBSR for 8 weeks of treatment. After evaluating the patients 3 months later, the researchers found that insomnia severity had reduced in both groups.
There was a significant increase in total sleep time and a decrease in the amount of time in took for patients to fall asleep or return to sleep if they woke during the night. Both group saw an improvement in their moods and a decrease in stress-related symptoms. The only difference was that while the CBT-I group saw rapid improvement to their sleep issues, the MBSR experienced more gradual improvements over time.
These findings indicate that there are multiple treatment options to put in place for cancer patients battling insomnia. It is vital that all cancer patients have their sleep problems addressed to prevent the negative influences insomnia can have on therapeutic and supportive care.
The expansion of insomnia treatments for patients battling cancer is excellent news. It demonstrates there is no one path of success to end insomnia. If you have been experiencing insomnia speak with your doctor about natural remedies that have been shown to improve sleep. Some cancer patients even found success by practicing yoga!