Insomnia rate three times higher in cancer survivors

With rates of insomnia up to three times higher in cancer survivors than the general population, cancer survivors have been urged to take part in an Australian-first survey on the impacts of their diagnosis.

Figures show around 63 per cent of Australian cancer survivors suffer sleep disturbance and about 30 per cent meet the clinical criteria for insomnia – a rate two to three times higher than the general population*.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn said sleep difficulties could cause significant health problems for cancer survivors.

“There can be major medical, psychological and financial impacts for cancer patients and survivors who experience sleep disturbance and insomnia,” Prof Dunn said.

“Sleeping difficulties can lead to significant distress, fatigue and decreased quality of life, affecting a person’s ability to cope with treatment and recovery.

“Cancer Council Queensland’s survivorship survey aims to improve community understanding of the side-effects of cancer, improve treatment for conditions such as insomnia, and improve quality of life for patients.

“Our aim is to better understand the unmet needs of cancer survivors and develop programs for addressing related conditions, such as insomnia, so that we can support patients with overcoming the debilitating side-effects of the disease.”

CCQ spokesperson Katie Clift said the survey was a crucial tool in understanding how cancer changed people’s lives.

“Our Survivorship Survey will provide vital data on the emotional, physical and practical concerns of cancer survivors.

“It will enable us to enhance specialised support for cancer survivors by addressing physical, emotional and practical impacts of the disease,” Ms Clift said.

“The survey is a great way for survivors to help inform future strategies by sharing their experiences of cancer.

“We encourage all survivors to take part in the survey, which includes questions on sleep disturbance and insomnia, so that we can help those affected.

“With more than 180,000 Queenslanders alive today after a cancer diagnosis, we urge survivors to get involved in this important research.”

Queenslanders who are aged over 18, have been diagnosed with cancer and completed their treatment, can take part in the online survey via

This year, about 24,000 Queenslanders will be diagnosed with cancer.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph:(07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*Savard J, Morin CM: Insomnia in the context of cancer: a review of a neglected problem. J Clin Oncol 2001, 19(3):895-908.
*Savard J, Simard S, Blanchet J, et al: Prevalence, Clinical Characteristics, and Risk Factors for Insomnia in the Context of Breast Cancer. Sleep 2001, 24(5):583-590.
*Morin C, LeBlanc M, Daley M, et al: Epidemiology of insomnia: prevalence, self-help treatments, consultations, and determinants of help-seeking behaviors. Sleep Med 2006, 7(2):123-130.