Sleep disruption at a glance

Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or achieving restful sleep are all markers of sleep disruption. They can impact your ability to function, may worsen symptoms and side effects during cancer treatment, and may even affect your response to treatment. Many therapies and practices are available to help you get the sleep you need. 

If you have difficulty managing your daily schedule to give yourself at least seven hours in bed before you need to get up, see our Sleeping Well handbook for guidance.

In this handbook, we discuss ways to manage and improve your sleep quality if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once you’re in bed.

Prescription sleep medications are effective at promoting sleep, but many come with risks and side effects. Behavior changes and complementary therapies may be effective without these side effects. 

Sleep disruption may be a symptom of stress. If stress is contributing to your sleep disruption, managing your stress response will be important for you.

Top practices and therapies for managing sleep disruption

The effects of these practices and therapies on sleep are described on What approaches can help you manage sleep disruption? ›

Therapies and practices we have reviewed

Further therapies and practices

Therapies recommended in clinical practice guidelines; see guidelines ›

Chinese herbal blends (consult a Chinese medicine practitioner)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy



Mind-body modalities ›

Minimize alcohol use

Music and arts therapies

Some therapies have recommendations against use for sleep disruption in one or more clinical practice guidelines due to evidence that they are not effective:


Vitamin E


Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, MSN, RN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher

Last update: May 21, 2024

Last full literature review: January 2022

CancerChoices provides information about u0022integrativeu0022u0022 cancer care. We review u0022complementaryu0022u0022in therapies and u0022self-careu0022u0022 practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of u0022conventionalu0022u0022the and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.