Going from large amounts of sleep to insomnia

109107663Going through chemotherapy is hard on the body and leaves the body fatigued. Getting a lot of sleep is important to heal the body. But I find myself going from sleeping constantly to now getting almost no sleep. In this post I will blog about this transition from two different sleeping extremes.

During my first round of chemo I basically slept the day away. The following few days weren’t much different. After that I was able to function pretty well by getting a good nights sleep and a nap in the afternoon. There were still some days during I would get more fatigued, but that would usually go away after my afternoon nap.

A week and a half ago I had my second round of chemo. Just as before I basically slept through chemo. Now I know this is likely due to the fact they inject me with a large dose of Benadryl. The two days following chemo I also napped a lot. This seems to be normal for chemo patients. After that things seem to go different from my first cycle of chemo. Actually things have changed so much I almost wish for the days when I would seemingly nap nonstop.

This time around I find myself unable to take a nap in the afternoon. I still feel exhaustion requiring me to take a nap and I definitely lay down for a nap. But no matter what I do I can’t fall asleep. On a couple of days I have been able to lightly snooze, but that really isn’t the same as actually sleeping. This has led me to stop even trying to nap over the last few days. The frustration that comes from trying to nap is more annoying to me than the fatigue I suffer from.

At the same time as I began to have problems napping, my nights started to get shorter. During the first three-week cycle of chemo I would get eight to ten hours of sleep each night. Now, on my second three-week round of chemo, I am down to about four to five hours of sleep a night. As I check my fitbit chart I see a definite drop downwards since my latest round of chemo. For the last week my average sleep duration per day has been four hours and forty minutes.

Last night I actually got a lot of sleep compared to other nights during the week. I slept for five and a half hours. But then I had a long day of watching/filming a band competition. Plus I only had two hours and twenty minutes of sleep the night before. Since my body is supposed to be healing I’m not sure only five and a half hours of sleep should be considered a good nights sleep.

Insomnia is nothing new to me. The first time I remember experiencing insomnia was when I deployed to Bosnia almost twenty-five years ago. Since that time I have occasionally experienced lesser insomnia. Usually I would be able to link it something lifestyle related such as drinking too much pop or unhealthy eating. This time however I am unable to link the insomnia directly with any action I am taking. I think part of it may be stress related such as was the likely cause in Bosnia.

I have been trying different natural remedies to keep the insomnia at bay. So far nothing has been effective. Since it has only been a little over a week of insomnia I’m not overly worried, but I will continue to try different remedies. One possibility I’ve read about is restless leg syndrome, which I suffer from. I’ve never actually seen a doctor about my restless legs, but now I might have to. I’ve found articles linking restless legs to low iron levels, which can be made worse by cancer. And of course I am on chemo which can actually create a anemia condition in the body. But at the same time I have an iron-rich diet, which should keep iron deficiency and possibly anemia at bay. Yet I have found quite a few articles linking restless leg and anemia to insomnia for cancer patients.┬áThis upcoming week I’ll set up a doctor’s appointment to see if this is possibly what is causing my insomnia.

I’ll continue to look into possible causes for my insomnia. Insomnia is a very common complaint from cancer patients so I shouldn’t be surprised it is impacting me. Any cancer patients out there reading this post should know they are not alone! If I find a remedy or there is any change to my sleeping patterns I will share that information on this blog so it might help others.