NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Part 6: Coping with side effects
Get enough sleep
Sleep gives your body and mind a chance to rest and
recover from stress. As you may have noticed, dealing
with cancer and its treatment is pretty stressful, which can
make sleep a challenge. Over time, sleep deprivation can
mess with your mood, your relationships, and your ability to
Your treatment team can help if you’re having trouble
sleeping—and can even refer you to a sleep specialist if
sleep problems are really interfering with your life. There
are also a few simple steps you can take that may make it
easier to sleep:
Set a sleep schedule.
Many people find it easier to
sleep when they go to bed and get up at around the
same time every day.
Nap when you need to
, but try to limit naps to less
than an hour so you can still fall asleep at night.
Exercise during the day.
Improved sleep is just
one of the many benefits of physical activity. Just
make sure that you exercise at least three hours
before bedtime so you’re not too revved up to sleep.
Relax in the evening.
Give yourself some time to
wind down and relax before trying to sleep. Limit
screen time. Take a bath. Listen to music. Read a
good (but not too exciting!) book. Whatever works to
slow you down.
Steer clear of caffeine and alcohol
at the end of
the day, both of which can make it more difficult to
Make use of your team
Your oncology treatment team has a wealth of
experience and information, and you should draw on
them every chance you get. This is particularly true if
you are being treated at a center that has an AYA cancer
program, which should have lots of resources to help
you deal with the physical, emotional, and day-to-day
challenges of cancer treatment.
Many cancer centers also have complementary or
integrative medicine programs that offer acupuncture,
hypnotherapy, reflexology, yoga, and other types of
complementary therapy that can prevent or relieve side
Your team will want to monitor the types of side effects
you experience, how severe they are, and how they are
affecting your overall health and well-being. You may
be asked to keep a diary tracking your side effects and
other information such as your temperature, and be given
instructions on when to call the doctor. Be honest about
what you’re experiencing—this isn’t the time to put on a
brave face or play down how bad you’re feeling. If the
side effects are too severe or if they threaten your long-
term health, the team can modify the treatment plan.