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Poor sleep a problem in long-term breast cancer survivors

WESTCHESTER, Ill. A research abstract that will be presented on Monday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS), finds that poor sleep is a problem in long-term breast cancer survivors.

The study, authored by Julie L. Elam, of Indiana University, was based on 246 breast cancer survivors with an average age of 48 years. Seventy-six percent of the participants were Caucasian, 73 percent employed, 73 percent married or partnered, 70 percent postmenopausal, 58 percent with a college education, and 43 percent with at least one concurrent medical problem. The women were an average of 5.62 years post-treatment.

According to the results, 65 percent of breast cancer survivors scored at or above the cut-off for poor sleep. Breast cancer survivors in the minority, those with hot flashes, with high physical functioning, and high depressive symptoms were more likely to have poor scores on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, self-rated questionnaire that assesses sleep quality and disturbances over a one-month time interval.

This study provided new information about predictors of poor sleep in long-term breast cancer survivors, said Elam. The purpose of the study was to examine a comprehensive list of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors that contribute to poor sleep for this population. The findings indicated that sleep disturbances were problematic in long-term survivors with physiological and psychological predictors of poor sleep.

Sleep plays a vital role in promoting a womans health and well being. Getting the required amount of sleep is likely to enhance a womans overall quality of life. Yet, women face many potential barriers such as life events, depression, illness, and medication use that can disrupt and disturb her sleep. Overcoming these challenges can help her enjoy the daily benefits of feeling alert and well rested.

It is recommended that women get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips for women on how to get a good nights sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full nights sleep every night.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
  • Do not bring your worries to bed with you.
  • Do not go to bed hungry, but dont eat a big meal before bedtime either.
  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.

Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.


Contact: Kathleen McCann
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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