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Melatonin for sleep when ER+

Hi all,

I have been suffering with insomnia, poor quality sleep, and fatigue since I started hormone therapy 2 years ago. I feel I have tried the kitchen sink (ativan, gabapentin, ambien, trazadone, Benadryl, acupuncture, exercise, Cbd and THC oils) with no results. My oncologist will not let me try melatonin because he says there’s not enough info on the role it plays with estrogen. It seems like many people here have taken it. What have others experience been with melatonin and what have your oncologists advised about it if you’re ER+?


  • B-A-P
    B-A-P Member Posts: 409
    edited April 2019

    I take a therapeutic dose of 20 mg of melatonin daily. Since starting tamoxifen I’ve had insomnia too and the melatonin hasn’t been helping me. However it is an antioxidant and there are studies showing it helps women with breast cancer. Not sure if anyone else has anything to add but my holistic practitioner put me on the melatonin and my oncologist knows I’m on it as well

  • Runrcrb
    Runrcrb Member Posts: 202
    edited April 2019

    my oncologist was ok with it. It doesn’t work for me anymore. I assume you’ve tried switching out when you take your AI? Switching from night to morning eliminated insomnia due to the AI for me.

  • husband11
    husband11 Member Posts: 1,287
    edited April 2019

    My wife takes melatonin for sleep and it hasn't interfered with her treatment. The dosage to help with sleep is tricky though. Sometimes too high of a dose interferes with sleep. Also, taking a break from the melatonin seems to renew its ability to induce sleep.

    My suggestion would be to start with the smallest possible dosage and see if that has any benefit. Liquid melatonin is easer for small doses, so you can try .5 mg for instance.

    Everything I've read indicates melatonin should be beneficial for ER+ breast cancer patients. There was a lot of research coming out of Italy 10-15 years ago. Not so much any more. One small group study seemed to indicate that a high dose, like 30 mg daily, for 2 weeks, might restore the responsiveness of breast cancer to hormonal therapy.

    There has been a lot of research and speculation that being deprived of melatonin is a risk factor in having breast cancer. Shift workers for instance have a statistically higher rate of breast cancer. The speculation is that interruption of the normal cycle of sleep and darkness to melatonin increases the risk of breast cancer.

  • LoveFromPhilly
    LoveFromPhilly Member Posts: 1,019
    edited April 2019

    I am ER+ and take 20mg of melatonin at night. I’ve been on it for 2 years now. My MO is fine with it and my ND was who prescribed it - and she’s been in practice for 35 years in oncology. Hope this helps

  • WC3
    WC3 Member Posts: 658
    edited April 2019

    I have not done any research on melatonin and ER+ breast cancer, but I took a low dose from the time of my dx and throughout chemotherapy when I was not taking the dexamethasone on the advice of an oncologist my sister knows. I am not sure if he knew my receptor typing.

    It did not make me sleepy but it helped me fall asleep faster. Other things that help me sleep is to lower the temperature of the room, take a hot shower right before bed, and try to sleep before I get over tired.

    I didn't/don't have insomnia though, and by insomnia, I mean feeling tired but unable to fall asleep, stay asleep. The few times that I have, I realized that I was stressing over not falling asleep and that was contributing to keeping me awake so I changed my mission objective from falling asleep to resting my body. I figured if I could not rest my mind, I would settle for the next best thing, so I would just lay there and left my body rest and I would eventially fall asleep.

  • oceanbum
    oceanbum Member Posts: 3,644
    edited April 2019

    I take 10mg of Melatonin every night to help me sleep. I suffer from insomnia. I can go to sleep relatively quickly but I wake up any where from 5 to 15 times a night. I don't stay awake long, maybe 15 minutes to an hour total. So I do believe the melatonin is helping me. Before my cancer diagnosis/treatments I was a very sound sleeper. I grew up 4 doors from a train tracks so I could sleep through ANYTHING. Lol Now every little thing wakes me up.

  • 1redgirl
    1redgirl Member Posts: 94
    edited April 2019
    Did you have trouble getting and staying asleep prior to bc? I ask that because I never slept well. I actually feared sleeping knowing what a struggle it was for me. It really was miserable. After bc diagnosis, 2nd time, I changed my diet and also fast. I have eliminated added sugar, simple carbs, and do intermittent fasting. BTW, I also was plagued by restless leg syndrome, migraines and joint pain. Anyway, within a few short weeks, I could sleep like a baby. No more of the above either. It is remarkable. I slept about 10 hrs last night after a long day Sunday of biking and gym work. I no longer fear time to go to bed. I cannot comment on your medication as I take none, but I believe strongly that proper nutrition, exercise, and fasting makes sleeping sound possible. I really value my sleep. I am thankful I can count on it now.
  • santabarbarian
    santabarbarian Member Posts: 2,310
    edited April 2019

    Neurofeedback made my sleep deeper, more restful. I am rarely conscious of awakening at night anymore. I also take 20 mg melatonin/night for anti-cancer purposes... but my sleep was already wonderful from Neurofeedback. Neuroptimal is the easy system.

  • ellientta
    ellientta Member Posts: 5
    edited April 2019

    Hi! I'm just chiming in here. I met my naturopathic doctor today. She specializes in oncology and is on the tumor board with my MO and BS. The first thing she did was recommend 20mg of melatonin each night for anti-tumor properties. I'm er+/pr+. She did warn me that some people have really vivid nightmares the first few nights they take the dose.

  • wallycat
    wallycat Member Posts: 1,239
    edited April 2019

    I've been taking 20mg of melatonin for 12 years...starting year 13. My findings were it was beneficial against cancer (such as any of these studies can be). I wish I had known about this in my teens...really, really helped with sleep. Not 100% but I sleep better now than I did in my 20s.