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Chemo/Radiation prior to surgery done now can't sleep

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2011

Please help. I have now been done with the prior to surgery chemo/radiation for three weeks and for the last week I have been lucky to get 2 hours of sleep per night. I am not thinking of my cancer or surgery and have been really positive through this whole thing. I have high stage III (they initially diagnosed stage IV) rectal/colon cancer. During treatment I took benadryl and two of my nausea pills but now that does not work for sleep. prescription sleeping pills are not working either. I took two last night and have been up all night -- literally. Thank you. Patti

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Unfortunately, that's one of the common side affects of treatment, both pre and post, and the myriad of drugs they put us on for fighting the possible side affects. Even if you up and stop the anti-side affect drugs, they are still in your system for some time and can cause havoc with sleep patterns.

You might want to talk to your onc or family doctor and explain the problem, let them know exactly what you are taking and how often... and they might be able to prescribe something that doesn't react to what you are taking.

Me... I know tonight is an insomnia night because I was so sick of bland food and the lightheadedness/dizzies I was getting for having no real food, that I ordered in Chinese tonight. Hahaha... I kept it simple with soup, egg foo yung and rice... which after 10 days of next to nothing, this was delicious (and the dizzies and lightheadeness have disappeared!) ... but alas, the intestines and stomach are not happy campers. So I've been up pretty much all night :) Was it worth it? I guess I'll know more tomorrow :)


PS: I see this is your first post! Welcome to the semi-colon club!!!! :D

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2011

HI Cheryl,

Thank you so much. Sorry that both of us are part of the club but after getting on the other night it has helped reading what others are going through so I don't feel like I am over-exaggerating what is going on with me (in my mind and/or otherwise).

Good luck.


abrub's picture
Posts: 1559
Joined: Mar 2010

Lunesta keeps me up; Ambien CR works great (but I hate the amnesia that goes with it for me.)

We respond differently to different meds. Ask about Valium or Ativan as another possibility.

I'm trying to find one I can use, tho now I only need it occasionally. The amnesia issues with the Ambien (I do things during the night of which I am totally unaware) has it an unacceptable level. However, I relied on Ambien for many months post-dx and during treatment. As I mentioned, Lunesta makes me sleepy, but unable to sleep, so that's useless. I don't know what we'll try next, or since my needs are now so infrequent, I'll just rely on Valium.

pepebcn's picture
Posts: 6352
Joined: Aug 2010

a very similar treatment , but not problems with sleeping in my case!

Posts: 3
Joined: Feb 2011

Thank you to all that offered help. Thank you thank you thank you. Patti

karguy's picture
Posts: 1024
Joined: Apr 2009

I had trouble sleeping when I was taking vicodin,I had to get off of it,then started on zoloft,and ativan.Now I sleep all night,but it took about a month to get rid of the vicodin from my system.I was also cold all the time.Talk to the doctor,I'm sure you can find something that works.Good luck.

Posts: 217
Joined: Apr 2010

I could not sleep while on chemo, would lay awake watching tv, could not relax. Told nurse and wanted prescription, but they suggested over the counter at Walgreens, it started with a D, sorry forgot name, but have seen it at other stores. It really helped. It still took a while to go to sleep, but I would sleep and when I woke up I went back to sleep. When chemo was over I went off it with no problems. I would try something like that first. It was a capsule, I think blue. Good luck. Pat

Posts: 62
Joined: Apr 2009

I bought some meditation cd's on line and they helped immensely. Drugs work for only a short time than fade in their effectiveness and have some serious side effects - I am tired enough already during the day just from the chemo....


plh4gail's picture
Posts: 1232
Joined: Oct 2010

I did exactly the same thing! Even if my body felt tired, my brain would say nah, you're not sleeping. My Dr. gave me Ambien 10mg and they helped me so much. Good luck with the sleep!

Gail :)

TMac52's picture
Posts: 358
Joined: Aug 2010

LORAZAPAM 10 mg Works for me know but nothing worked while doing radiation/chemo.
I am on mop up chemo now post surgery and the lorazapam (same as ativan) works wonders.
Good luck,

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

OMG Gracie!! Ok, I know this is not funny, and I'm not making light of it for those who have had a problem with doing things on this drug and not being aware of doing them.... but when you said you heard people were known to sleepwalk and do things in their sleep, including SHOP, I roared!! This definitely would NOT be the drug I should go anywhere near!! HAHAHAHA!! I have a hard enough time with going on shopping sprees when I'm awake... I would be in big trouble if I started shopping in my sleep!! :D

(who LOVES shopping!)

tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5037
Joined: Feb 2008

I'm sorry, Patti! Have you tried Valerian? It's a root that you can purchase at Wal-Mart. It's helped me in the past.


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