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Quality of Life & Insomnia

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Numerous research studies document that for those of us with Lung Cancer, the higher our Quality of Life, the longer our Survival Rates (See http://www.lungevity.org/l_community/viewtopic.php?t=37598).

A study published in June 2008 at the ASCO conference shows that Insomnia is a Quality of Life factor for patients with advanced cancer:

Abstract: The impact of insomnia on patient satisfaction with quality of life in advanced cancer: A longitudinal analysis. Sub-category: Quality-of-Life Management. Category: Patient Care. Meeting: 2008 ASCO Annual Meeting. Abstract No: 20501. Citation: J Clin Oncol 26: 2008 (May 20 suppl; abstr 20501). Author(s): L. Cain, K. Campbell, K. Gilbert, J. J. Stark, C. G. Lis, T. C. Birdsall, J. F. Grutsch, S. Williams, D. Gupta.

Background: Insomnia is one of the most common and disabling symptoms experienced by cancer patients. We prospectively quantified the relationship between insomnia and patient satisfaction with quality of life (QoL) in advanced cancer.

Methods: 295 cancer patients treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America between 10/03 and 10/05 for a period of 3 months and who completed 2 QoL questionnaires at both baseline and 3 months. Insomnia was measured using the EORTC QLQ-C30 insomnia subscale. Scores ranged from 0 - 100, higher scores indicating more insomnia. Patient satisfaction with QoL was measured using Ferrans & Powers Quality of Life Index (QLI). Scores ranged from 0 - 30, higher scores indicating better QoL. The mean insomnia scores were compared using paired-samples t test across the 2 time periods.

Results: Of 295 patients, 140 were males and 155 females. 73 had breast cancer, 65 lung, 39 prostate, 33 colorectal, 12 pancreas and 73 had other cancers. 150 were newly diagnosed and 145 had received prior treatment elsewhere. The mean insomnia scores at baseline and 3 months were 41.2 (more insomnia) and 32.9 (less insomnia) respectively (p=0.001). Similarly, the mean QLI health scores at baseline and 3 months were 17 (low QoL) and 18.3 (better QoL) respectively (p=0.002). At baseline, after controlling for age, gender, prior treatment history, and tumor stage at diagnosis, every 10-unit increase in insomnia was significantly associated with 0.86 (p < 0.001), 0.21 (p = 0.01), 0.48 (p < 0.001), 0.27 (p < 0.007) and 0.53 (p < 0.001) unit decrease in QLI health, social, psychological, family and overall QoL respectively. At 3 months, every 10-unit increase in insomnia was significantly associated with 0.87 (p < 0.001), 0.35 (p = 0.001), 0.51 (p < 0.001), 0.34 (p = 0.003) and 0.59 (p < 0.001) unit decrease in QLI health, social, psychological, family and overall QoL.

Conclusions: We found that insomnia is a strong correlate of QoL independent of age, gender, prior treatment history and tumor stage at diagnosis during the first 3 months of treatment. Despite receiving aggressive cancer therapy, patients treated at our integrative cancer center reported statistically significant improvements in insomnia and overall QoL.

Source: http://www.asco.org/ASCO/Abstracts+%26+Virtual+Meeting/Abstracts?&vmview=abst_detail_view&confID=55&abstractID=32823

On a personal note: Since my dx in 01/07 I have experienced insomnia numerous times, the most "notable" being in 08/07 when Prednisone-induced insomnia actually caused me to have a "psychotic episode" (I'll take cancer any day!). I afterward learned that psychotic episodes are practically "automatic" if one goes five days without sleep; and that ten days without sleep can result in death. Since that time, I have made sleep a #1 priority and believe strongly that doing so has improved every aspect of my life.

When "forced" to do so (by the severity of the insomnia), I have taken prescription drugs (Restoril), but my primary "cures" for this disorder have been sunlight,* acupuncture, relaxation (including massage therapy, music and meditation) and herbal remedies.

* 45 minutes a day of sunlight (Vitamin D) on any part of your body (even a spot as small as a quarter) is not only a remedy for insomnia, but for depression as well.

Submitted by Carole

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for the tip, DT.

I haven't tried audio books yet, but do try to fall asleep reading (sometimes I succeed; others I end up staying up late and finishing the book! :D)

I also haven't tried radio talk shows, although I do sometimes listen to music on my iPod.

Another aid has been by way of a terrarium I created that has a waterfall (a submersible pump with tube recirculates water that travels over rocks into a pool and back over rocks again). The sound of the water helps me go to sleep.


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