Sleep Disorders in Mesothelioma Patients

Sleep disorders may be caused by tumor growth, mesothelioma therapy, or other factors. This brief summary describes sleep disorders, their causes and treatment.

Risk Factors

The sleep disorders most likely to affect patients with mesothelioma are insomnias and disorders of the sleep-wake cycle. Effects of tumor growth and mesothelioma treatment that may cause sleep disturbances include: anxiety, depression, pain, fever, cough, breathing problems, itching, fatigue, seizures, headaches, night sweats, hot flashes, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and the inability to control bodily functions. Patients may have sleep interruptions due to treatment schedules, hospital routines, and roommates. Other factors affecting sleep during a hospital stay include noise, temperature, pain, anxiety, and the patient's age. Chronic sleep disturbances can cause irritability, inability to concentrate, depression, and anxiety. While in the hospital, sleep disorders may make it hard for the patient to continue with mesothelioma therapy.


To diagnose sleep disorders in mesothelioma patients, the doctor will get the patient's complete medical history and give a physical examination. The doctor may get information about the patient's sleep history and patterns of sleep from the patient, from observations, and from the patient's family and friends. A polysomnogram, an instrument that measures brain waves, eye movements, muscle tone, heart rate, and breathing during sleep, may also be used to diagnose sleep disorders in patients with mesothelioma.


To promote rest and treat sleep disorders the following may be considered:

  • Create an environment that decreases sleep interruptions by:
    • Lowering noise
    • Dimming or turning off lights
    • Adjusting room temperature
    • Keeping bedding, chairs, and pillows clean, dry, and wrinkle-free
    • Using bedcovers for warmth
    • Placing pillows in a supportive position
    • Encouraging the patient to dress in loose, soft clothing
  • Encourage regular bowel and bladder habits to minimize sleep interruptions, such as
    • No drinking before bedtime
    • Emptying the bowel and bladder before going to bed
    • Increasing consumption of fluids and fiber during the day
    • Taking medication for incontinence before bedtime.

Rest in patients with mesothelioma may also be promoted by:

  • Eating a high-protein snack 2 hours before bedtime
  • Avoiding drinks with caffeine
  • Exercising (which should be completed at least 2 hours before bedtime)
  • Keeping regular sleeping hours

Drugs may also be used to help patients with mesothelioma manage their sleep disorders.

Delerium in mesothelioma patients.


Free Information Packet on Mesothelioma

If you would like to receive a FREE information packet on mesothelioma**, or if you have a comment or question, please complete the following:

**(Packet includes information on treatment, clinical trials, cancer links, how to access legal and financial resources, and frequently asked legal questions with answers provided by Cooper, Hart, Leggiero & Whitehead, PLLC). By filling out the above form you consent to being contacted by Cooper, Hart, Leggiero & Whitehead regarding potentially retaining legal services.