Getting a good night’s sleep for some people is difficult, and after a cancer diagnosis and the completion of treatment it can become even harder.


Working on the Healthy Living after Cancer program, I speak with people over the phone assisting them to make healthy lifestyle changes. Often one of the barriers that gets in the way for people wanting to make these changes is feeling exhausted. People often tell me that since their diagnosis and treatment they haven’t had a good night’s sleep and are too tired to exercise and not motivated to prepare healthy food.


One of my clients, we’ll call her Julia, was struggling to make changes to her lifestyle. One of the issues that kept coming up for her was feeling exhausted. We talked about sleep and she said that this was one of her biggest issues and it was preventing her from enjoying life. She hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since her cancer diagnosis and the treatment had thrown her into early menopause. Hormonal symptoms and night sweats where playing havoc with her ability to sleep.


Julia’s experience with lack of sleep isn’t unusual. Many people who have finished their cancer treatment experience problems with sleep. 


Over the next few months Julia experimented with different techniques until she found some strategies that helped to get her sleep back on track; 

  • Getting up at the same time each day really helped to reset her body clock.
  • No alcohol or coffee after 4pm meant that she slept better.
  • She resisted having a late afternoon nap.
  • Technology - “bed time rules” not looking at emails, phone or Facebook after 8.30pm at night.

Once Julia had more energy she started exercising more and this also helped to lessen some of the hormonal reactions she was facing. It can be a vicious cycle but Julia managed to get her sleep under control and has gone from strength to strength with improving her general health and wellbeing.


For more information on Sleep & Cancer:

Post new blog
Talk to a health professional
Cancer Council support and information 13 11 20Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm
Cancer Information and Support

Online resources and support

Access information about support services, online resources and a range of other materials.

Caring for someone with cancer?

Find out what resources and support services are available to assist you.