Cancer patients, including those with ovarian cancer, report sleep disturbances at a higher rate than the general population. A significant proportion of cancer survivors (23% to 44%) experience insomnia even years after treatment.
Sleep disturbances are associated with fatigue and are considered part of the cancer symptom cluster, which also includes cognitive impairment and depressive mood, and greatly reduces the quality of life.
Pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions, including exercise and cognitive-behavior therapy, have shown only modest benefits in the treatment of cancer-related fatigue.
Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of systematic light exposure, which had shown positive effects in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Results showed that bright light therapy improved mean sleep efficiency – the ratio of time spent asleep compared to the total time spent in bed – to clinically normal levels. The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine..
This improvement was observed even three weeks after the intervention. In comparison, participants exposed to the dim light did not experience benefits in sleep efficiency.