I don’t know about your experiences, but I definitely suffer from insomnia. There are two different types of insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep. I have no problem getting to sleep, but after three to four hours I find myself waking every half hour to hour. This can continue on for two to three hours. The end result is that I wake up exhausted and often with a headache. Some days I struggle to stay awake. So what is the big deal about a brief nap at my desk, but sometimes while sitting at a traffic light I fight to stay awake. Clearly, this is not the best of situations.

I have discussed this issue with my doctors and they have suggested that I try taking anbien CR on a regular basis to try and alter this sleep pattern. I have resisted so far as I do not like to take any extra medications, especially ones that can become habit forming. I am on a mini vacation (thus I have not been very good at posting these last few days) and I have decided to try and break the cycle over the next few days.

As I researched prostate cancer and insomnia I found there is very little written about the relationship between the two. There is a recent exception, the College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ has just published a small study about insomnia, depression, and distress in men with prostate cancer. The study had only 51 men who were recruited from a Veterans Affairs Medical Center outpatient clinic.

The men were administered questionnaires including the Insomnia Severity Index, Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, and Impact of Event Scale. The researchers found that many of the subjects had insomnia and depression with a moderate level of distress. The big surprise was that half the men with clinically significant insomnia also had clinically significant depression. They found significant relationships among insomnia, depression, and distress.

I have previously discussed the lack of awareness, research and treatment about the psychological impacts of prostate cancer. Insomnia and depression have as much a negative impact on many lives as does hot flashes, erectile dysfunction and inconstancy, so why is there so little acknowledgement and sensitivity to this significant problem?

As an individual who does suffer with insomnia, I can tell you it is not fun.

Appl Nurs Res. 2009 Aug;22(3):154-158.
doi:10.1016/j.apnr.2007.09.001 Dirksen SR, Epstein DR, Hoyt MA.;
PubMed Abstract

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW