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Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > After Treatment > Fatigue and Insomnia


Fatigue and Insomnia

Fatigue and insomnia (sleeping problems) are common during breast cancer treatment. Although these side effects most often go away once treatment ends, some survivors may have fatigue and insomnia for a longer period of time [160].  

Some tips to relieve fatigue and insomnia are discussed below. However, if you feel overly tired or are having trouble sleeping talk to your health care provider. Together, you can find the best ways to reduce fatigue and insomnia.


After breast cancer treatment ends, fatigue can make it hard for some people to get back to their normal routines. Even so, it is important for all survivors to try to get some regular activity every day.  

Studies show regular exercise, even just walking every day, can help reduce fatigue in breast cancer survivors [161-163]. Aerobic exercises (like walking or cycling) appear to be the best for reducing fatigue, but exercises such as yoga may also help [162,164,173,178]. Acupuncture has also been shown to help reduce fatigue in survivors [165].  

Getting a good night’s sleep is also important.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a special type of mental health counseling that may also combine techniques such as relaxation exercises. Some findings suggest cognitive behavioral therapy plus hypnosis may reduce fatigue in breast cancer survivors [179]. At this time, however, few people are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy and it is not widely available.


Medications are often used to treat insomnia in people without breast cancer, yet only a few studies show they reduce insomnia related to breast cancer treatment [166].  

Some recent findings show yoga may actually improve sleep quality for cancer survivors [172]. 

Other behaviors that promote sleeping and may reduce insomnia include [166]:

  • Keeping a regular schedule and avoiding napping during the day
  • Avoiding spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
  • Having a dark, quiet place to sleep
  • Reducing tension with meditation or other relaxation techniques
  • Avoiding excessive TV or computer use in bed

Updated 04/03/14


Survivorship Topics 

Quality of Life