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chemo insomnia

jackiejhm's picture
Posts: 169
Joined: Feb 2010

Hi, I am in to DAY 9 of chemo. Three week cycles of taxotere and cytoxin. All is well with most symptoms. Ativan takes care of nausea. My problem is, I can't sleep. My Doctor gave me a prescription for Ambien, to help. Well, I fall asleep pretty fast, and then I am wide awake 3 hours later. Has any one else delt with this. It's starting to wear a bit. I mean, I have alphabetized my silverware drawer;ironed my sox; vaccumed my dog and am knitting a cozy for my fridge---just kidding about the cozy. Anyone?

bjmom1's picture
Posts: 152
Joined: Jan 2010

I guess that the normal not to sleep while taking treatment. Everyone I know could not sleep it must be part of the side effects. I will suggest during the day try to take naps it help. Sorry I couldn't give you any other suggestion. I still can't sleep at night and my treatment been over almost 3yrs ago.

susie09's picture
Posts: 2933
Joined: Jul 2009

I think it might just be part of the side effects of chemo. Perhaps your oncologist could prescribe something stronger to help you sleep longer.

TraciInLA's picture
Posts: 1994
Joined: Jul 2009

I don't have very much advice to offer you, and I'm certainly not laughing at what you're going through, but your sense of humor is inspiring. Alphabetized your silverware drawer? What, so "forks" come first, but "salad forks" are now way at the end? Oh, or maybe "soup spoons" are at the end? I think you should post a chart, so we can all have well-organized silverware drawers. :-)

I did the same chemo cocktail as you, from August-October of last year. I definitely had trouble sleeping for the first couple of days after chemo, from all the steroids they pumped me full of before and during each round. Because they also pumped me full of Benadryl before each infusion, and Benadryl makes me really sleepy, my oncologist was fine with me just taking more over-the-counter Benedryl at night if I needed it to sleep.

You may have already tried that -- I'm sure others here will have better advice.

Be sure to post a photo of that refrigerator cozy once it's finished!

:-) Traci

AmandaMarie29's picture
Posts: 55
Joined: Nov 2009

I have the same combo as you....I am day 7 out from it. I find that if I do a very light workout...like a walk or yoga it helps with my sleeping at night. If you don't mind me saying...I had a friend of mine get me a little marijuana..I smoke that right before bed...I sleep like 8hrs, and it stopped my night sweats. It's not legal where I'm at but I wanted to try and see if it works, because I've heard great things. I will say it does it's job :) Hope that helps


Posts: 3645
Joined: Aug 2009

Ambien comes in different strengths so you might talk with your Dr. about getting a stronger one.

On Taxol I couldn't sleep either and the first sleeping pill I was given didn't do hardly anything other than the little time I did sleep I had violent/horrendous nightmares. My PA changed me to the lowest dosage of Ambien with the option of going to a higher dosage if I needed it. It worked pretty godd - take about 45 min. to fall asleep, slept til about 1 woke up rolled over and fell basck asleep within 5 - 10 min. so I stayed with the lowest dose but sounds like you might need a higher dose or try a different pill all together.

Good luck finding the right sleeping aid.

aztec45's picture
Posts: 757
Joined: Jul 2009

It is normal to have insomnia caused from chemo but if the nausea meds and sleeping pills are not working, you need to let you Onc know. You need plenty of sleep so that the chemo and side effects don't get you down.

Can you knit me a cozy? Just kidding.

Take care of yourself.


New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

is a pretty powerful combination. I took Avitan before I went to bed and it worked for me. Unfortunately insomnia is part o breast cancer treatment. As Traci suggested afternoon naps were very helpful for me.
Good Luck

Eil4186's picture
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

I am sorry that you are not sleeping well. I started having trouble sleeping after chemo and have ever since. I tried ambien but did not like the way I felt the next day. I am now in the middle of cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia. My oncologist recommended this and told me that chemo causes changes in brain chemistry which they think is the cause of the sleep problems that so many cancer survivors experience.

Mama G
Posts: 763
Joined: Nov 2009

During the Taxol I had trouble for the first 2 nights. Just ended up planning for it and doing things on the computer or reading or cleaning house. It ended when the Taxol ended.

JillyB's picture
Posts: 50
Joined: Feb 2010

When I was on Adriomycin/Cytoxin, I had noraml fatigue. Now I am on just Taxotere, premeds and a low dose of some steroid I can't remember. (dontcha love ChemoBrain, takes me about 20-30 minutes to write one of these if I want the spellng to be at all legible! lol...)
So Taxotere..for the first 6 out of 12 treatments, weekly..OHHHHH, Dexomophan or something like that for the steroid. So the first 6 Taxo's KNOCKED ME OUT. I was sleeping about 8 hours a day and 10-11 hours a night. And the aches! So my Dr. put me on a 2 week break, 2 weeks ago, and after the first 3 days, I haven't been able to sleep at all, but can't really do anything, cuz I can't concentrate. What a cycle, huh? So I am curious to see, if when I start up again on Wed. if I go back to my deep winter's slumber, like before the break. I will tell Mr. Oncologist and see what he says. Wow, it's really scary to see some of you ladies are having sleeping probs a couple years after chemo was over! I have always had sleeping problems,as I get Hypo-manic, and have been up for, no joke, 11 days at a time once. With about 2 hours sleep every other day. gets annoying. this was before treatment. Has this condition for years...I'm 36 and it started when I was about 22. So I have been on just about every sleep aid out there. The only ones that ever worked were the really hard core, old school psych drugs, like I'm talking One Flew oVer the Cuckoos Nest drugs. But no one will prescribe them anymore because all these candy meds as I call them are supposed to work just as well. Not for everyone. It took over 60mg of Ambien for me to sleep for 3 hours once. That would kill most ppl, I think? I am NOT recommending trying it if you can't sleep. I shouldn't have done it back then either. Now the only way I can sleep at night is to take about 6-8 mg of klonopin. My psych knows this, and also knows my tolerance. That'll keep me asleep about 5 hours. I am actually hoping, going back on Taxotere, that it'll knock me out again. And that's my story.
Good luck to all of you awake out there!

jackiejhm's picture
Posts: 169
Joined: Feb 2010

I can't tell you how helpful all of your thoughts, and experiences have been. The best part of all of this awfulness is having those that understand- love, prayers and best wishes to all of you!!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxo Jackie

Posts: 14
Joined: Mar 2010

i've been taking the smallest dose of xanax just before for about a year now.....before bc. when i wake up i the middle of the night i can go right back to sleep. my brain doesn't go on fast forward anymore. i'm hoping that after i start my 1st chemo TOMORROW......it will still work for me.

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

Could you explain about your treatment "cognitive behavior therapy'. I am highly interested. Unfortunately, my oncologist only gives Rx for ambien and referred me to Psychiatrist .
New Flower

mariam_11_09's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Nov 2009

I was told the Lorazepam (for nausea) would help with the sleeping. So far it has when I don't take it I really don't sleep well.

I hope you figure this out as your body really needs to the rest. Take care.

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2010

I still have a sleep problem. I was on Ambien all through my chemo and rads. That all ended Oct.21, 2009. I take 1 1/2 pills every night. And I start waking up several hours later to use the bathroom. But I drink 2 large McD's iced tea every day. I drink 2 and lose 4! Once I get up to go to the bathroom the first time I will get up 3 or 4 more times to go. I guess I'm sleeping inbetween because my husband says I snore!

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

Welcome to the site. Since you are on Ambien for 1.5 years i probably does not work for you anymore. try lunesta and start from 1/2 pill.
I am suggesting that you need to try relaxation teas, sleeping teas. Also take a walk in the evening. I tied acupuncture and it did help me. My husband snores too. When I wake up to go to the bathroom it is difficult to go back to sleep.

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