Poor sleep a problem in long-term breast cancer survivors

June 09, 2008

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 woman's health and well being. Getting the required amount of sleep is likely to enhance a woman's 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 night's sleep: 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.
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The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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