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All TopicsForum: Surgery - Before, During, and After → Topic: Still have sleeping problem after the mastectomy surgery

Topic: Still have sleeping problem after the mastectomy surgery

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Jul 8, 2009 01:41AM

hlya wrote:

Hi, ladies,

Did anybody have the same problem as me?  It's been 2 months already since my bilateral mastectomy but I still can't sleep well.  

I didn't have any sleeping problem before the surgery - even I was dx with BC and didn't know my result yet, I still could sleep well!  But after the surgery, I can go to sleep fast but wake very early in the morning, even midnight. and I even wake up couple of times each night.  It made me feel tired sometimes.  I haven't taken any treatment yet.

My surgeon said it's very normal and happens to lots of women.  Did anybody get the same situation as mine?  I excercise everyday, but still can't get rid of it.  My surgeon said it would go away in 6 weeks but it's been 8 weeks and I don't see much improvement.  I don't want to take pills a lot as I never took pills before.


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Jul 8, 2009 02:00PM AnneW wrote:

Sleep issues are miserable. I think during our sleep times, the brain just goes into overdrive due to the stress of everything. It sounds like you're doing everything right to promote sleep. But you may benefit from some sort of treatment--pharmaceutical, herbal, homeopathic--to help you reboot your sleep system.

Best of luck,


2002 IDC stage 1, grade 1, rads & AI Dx 9/18/2007, ILC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 9, 2009 06:04PM simmonba wrote:

I had the same thing and mydoctor told me to try one glass of red wine each night before bed.  Had already cut out most coffee, etc and am also exercising.  She felt it was mostly stress and anxiety-related and that this minor amount of alcohol would help relax me.  Which it did.  It's also a bedtime ritual which really helps - if you go through a relaxing routine before bed, it seems to "turn off" your busy brain and help you get into a good sleep pattern.  There' a good article on non-medical sleep strategies on RealAge.com.  Good luck.

Barb "Today had been a good day." Dx 4/17/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 10, 2009 03:42PM cs34 wrote:

hi there.

did you all have a double mastectomy with reconstruction (latts) and lymph node removal? that's what i had.

luckya, aren't you still uncomfortable from the operation and that's what is waking you up? i know it undoubtedly keeps me up still and my operation was March 4th. (i'm also having my fourth chemo treatment of adryiomicin (sp?) & cytoxin on Wednesday.)

DMX-immediate latt flap, chemo, radiation, ooph Dx 1/2/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 3/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 10, 2009 04:06PM homealone wrote:

I had a bilateral mastectomy 2 weeks ago and am experiencing difficulty in sleeping.My normal sleeping postion was on my stomach so for obvious reasons I cannot do this now so I am sleeping sitting up on my back.I cannot turn over without waking as my mastectomy site is still very sore plus I have developed cellulitis under my right scar which is making the skin extremely tort and painful.So for the past 2 weeks I am sleeping for about an hour at a time so I now feel totally exhausted.Maybe as you are 2 months out you can tell me when do things get a lttle easier?

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Jul 29, 2009 09:10PM Graciegray wrote:

I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction on June 19th and have had a lot of trouble sleeping since then.  Of course there is the discomfort which is a challenge in itself but also I feel like I am on stimulates most of the night.   Even when I sleep I don't feel like I've rested.  I'm glad that I'm not the only one.  Maybe it is the repressed stress of the situation I don't know. 

Dx 5/22/2009, ILC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 29, 2009 09:17PM - edited Jul 29, 2009 09:17PM by Marathon1

I had my right mastectomy on July 6.  I have to say that before my diagnosis I was a horrible sleeper...then I really started sleeping well.  Since my surgery I've slept better.  Yes, I still wake up at night but I go right back to sleep...hasn't happened in years.  I have 3 dogs and one always seems to need to go out in the middle of the night.  I drink a lot of herbal tea before I go to sleep so too, I need to get up during the night.  I can't explain it...I'm more at peace now than before my diagnosis.  I think the fact that you can't get comfortable in your usual position doesn't allow your body to really relax for the entire night.  I realize too, sometimes, that because I can't sleep on my right side yet, that my body tenses up sometimes when in a different position too long.

Hang in there!  We're all here for you!

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Jul 29, 2009 09:23PM Angel10 wrote:

Hi there Lucky...how are you doing?? Are you sleeping better yet?

I did not want to take sleeping pills either, but I got so exhausted I gave in to it.  Took them for about 2-3 weeks and they worked like a dream. First Ambien then switched to Ativan. I stopped a couple of weeks ago as I wanted to see how I would do without them, and I am fine now.

Lucky...Lucky...are you there?? Wake up!!  Wink HA!

Good Luck!


Angel Dx 2/6/2009, ILC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 0/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 1, 2009 11:02PM ChrissyCA wrote:

I've had tissue expanders in for 6 months now (getting replacements this week). After every fill I had trouble with sleep. They aren't comfortable day or night. I take an occasional  20 minute nap to help.

Chrissy Dx 12/4/2008, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jan 4, 2012 12:25AM JaniceSmith7 wrote:

I only recently had bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer.  I began breast reconstruction at the same time with nipple sparing technique.  This didn't work and the nipples died.  Last week I underwent sugery again to remove the nipples.  I am so exhausted from trying to find a position to sleep in.  I move from the couch to the bed and then back to the couch.  Nothing is working.  It helps to see that a lot of ladies have difficulty finding sleeping positions. 

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Jan 4, 2012 04:53AM - edited Jan 4, 2012 04:55AM by Momine

Yes, I had sleep problems. I am almost 4 months out and it is still tricky to get a good night's sleep sometimes. I can't lie on my side because of the surgery. At first, I was allowed to lie on the left side, but the scars from the drains hurt and now I have swelling on and off in that armpit, so no more lying on it. 

Also, because I am supposed to keep the arms elevated on a pillow, I can't sleep on my belly, so I am stuck on my back, with the arms on a pillow on my belly, hands covered in socks against the mosquitos, not exactly super comfortable. 

I did not have reconstruction, but had axillary nodes out on right, sentinel out on left, and developed mild lymphedema during subsequent chemo. 

Dx 6/1/2011, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, 7/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 6/20/2011 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 9/13/2011 Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy 1/9/2012 Surgery 3/8/2012 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 4/1/2012 Femara (letrozole)
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Jan 4, 2012 05:22AM lynliz wrote:

It's 2 am right now, so yes, I'm having trouble sleeping. I had a bilateral masectomy Dec. 1st, and wake up about this time often. A glass of milk helps, sometimes. 

Try to keep positive. I try to think of things I'm grateful for. Chin up! 

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Jan 4, 2012 10:26AM JaniceSmith7 wrote:

Last night while sleepless, I researched online and found an example with pictures of how to place your pillows.  2 large in the back for shoulders and head with a soft pillow coming out long ways stuck in between those pillows for your back and buttocks to lay on, a pillow tucked under your knees and I used a small pillow up by my neck for additional support.  I had a very good nights rest after trying this technique.  Sorry I didn't write down the website but should be easy to find.  Also, after having 2 surgeries in less than a  month I found that the second time around was very emotional.  I am finally getting on the other side of that and have decided I need to be thankful for so many things which is helping as well to turn my thoughts to the future.  Bless all of you ladies.  You are one courageous group!

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Jan 4, 2012 11:33AM CarolAnn6 wrote:

Good morning! I told myself last night I would post as I could not find a comfortable spot!

UMX on 12/23, sore left arm, Tissue Expander poking me... I spent my first night in bed since surgery last night -I was in the recliner since surgery. While awake last night, I was thinking I may have to spend the next six months in a recliner or just be uncomfortable in bed. I wanted to snuggle with DH and instead was propped up by a comforter and four pillows. I guess I just miss laying next to him.

JaniceSmith - I am going to give it another try your way.

Dx 11/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 4, 2012 10:54PM JaniceSmith7 wrote:

To CarolAnne6:  Since you are so new after surgery make sure you have a couple of really small pillows to support your arms on either side as well.  This takes the pressure off under your arms and the sides of your breast area.  I hope you find comfort.

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Jan 5, 2012 02:20PM CarolAnn6 wrote:

To Janice Smith -I used your technique and I slept very well as compared to previous nights in bed or recliner. I was all locked in with pillows and small blankets and it worked. I now have a recliner in my room and I think I am going to stay put for awhile. Thank you. My left arm is still sore and the tissue expander still pokes.... But, now I am rested. Have a good day. Carol Ann

Dx 11/2011, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 5, 2012 02:43PM Hindsfeet wrote:

The only time I take a pain pill is right before going to sleep. It is the only way I can sleep. I sleep at least 10 hours and usually I sleep 5 or 6 hours. Sleep is important to healing. I have problems with the tissue expander polking me. Why does the tissue expander hurt so much?

Dx 6/13/2014, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 6, 2012 01:46PM JaniceSmith7 wrote:

CarolAnne I am so thankful it worked for you.  It is helping  me too.  I use my sofa so whatever works for sleep is great!  The tissue expander feels so hard around the edges at first and is uncomfortable.  After the ps filled it the first time it took some pressure off those edges and actually feels better.  Hang in there.  While my muscles were so uncomfortable from all of this I used Advil for pain and inflammation and a little narcotic when I needed it.  I am off both and on xtra strength Tylenol now.  My first surgery was dec 6th and second the 28th.  That kind of gives an idea of progress.  From what I have read from other women we are on track.  Brighter days are ahead!  Stay positive, we are certainly not alone.  I have thought often of the wonderful courageous ladies who have gone before us and have made it through.  Have a great day!

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Jan 6, 2012 01:48PM JaniceSmith7 wrote:

Hi Evebarry.  Happy to hear you only need pain pill at night!  Marvelous!  My ps says the muscles have to stretch and become accustomed to a foriegn object and when they do it lets up.  The tissue expander feels so hard around the edges but once I had it filled the second time it relieved some of that pressure.  The tightness we will have until we are done, but the end result will be worth it all.  Have a great day!

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Jun 10, 2012 02:58PM Amain wrote:

Melatonin.  Bought 2 bottles at Costco for $8.  Took one last night and slept 7 hours sitting up in the Lazy Boy.  I had bilateral m. two weeks ago and with a good night's sleep, feel like a million bucks today....it's during the sleep that the body heals the most.  Good luck.

Dx 3/12/2012, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 23, 2014 03:59PM Txgoose wrote:

it's been 3 years since my bilateral mastectomy. I still don't sleep through the night. I did not do reconstruction but do not sleep well. I do not take med for it. Not much of a med taker. Just seems I'm not comfortable and feel sore or achy. 

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Jun 14, 2015 07:36AM Grettelt wrote:

I'm in your same situation. On 5/13/15 I had double Max with direct implants. Got cellulitis on my right breast where the T meets. I was 11 days in the hospital and for some reason I was able to sleep there because I was taking 2 percosets, flexeria and an Ambien.

Well, when I came home again on 6/1 it was hell to sleep. I had decided to stop all pain mess because "I was not in pain" .... Omg the worse withdraws EVER. It turns out that the body can't sleep, you feel nauseous, tired, and restless...I when for a week sleeping only two to four hours a day only. Needless to say the lack of sleep is terrible for healing the wound on the right breast.

Well, today being a month from surgery and 13 days I came back home, I'm only able to sleep on a futon with all the pillow put in like the hospital bed. I normally sleep on my sides so even with an ambien ( wish I've taken for many years) I still don't sleep right. I tried sleping on the left side like the doctor aloud me to by now, but it made the bottom of my Inspiron on the left hurt sooooo much the rest of the day that's it wasn't worth it.

I wish you all the comfort in the world and I hope your start sleeping better.

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Jun 14, 2015 09:30AM Bippy625 wrote:

you bet!

I am finally back to normal, but unable to sleep well till recently. Could not sleep on either side till 2 months ago.

Do not be afraid to ask for a light, non addictive sleep med. I take Trazodone for any bad nights and it is great. Also, try melatonin, it works well for me at 10 mg. i hate taking pills too, but am used to it now.

Best wishes for return to good sleeps

www.theperjetadiaries.org Dx 7/29/2014, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/13 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 14, 2015 10:25AM marketingmama wrote:

I'm 3 weeks out from BMX plus TEs. Can't lay on my side--too painful. I have found that a muscle relaxer (Valium or Flexeril) makes the difference. It relaxes all the tight muscles and after about an hour listening to an audio book (highly recommend post-BMX), I'm sleepy enough to sleep in that semi sitting up position (tons of pillows). Hope the drugs are ok but honestly know I need sleep to heal

Dx 12/2014, LCIS, Both breasts, 0/5 nodes Surgery 5/19/2015 Lymph node removal: Left, Right, Sentinel; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/23/2015 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Surgery 9/18/2015 Reconstruction (right) Surgery 11/29/2015 Reconstruction (right) Surgery 2/10/2016 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Jun 14, 2015 11:59AM Moderators wrote:

Dear Grettelt, Welcome to the BCO community. We are so sorry for you sleepiness nights but glad that you reached out here for some support and information. Here is a link to info on our site about Insomnia. We hope that your situation improves and that you stay connected here. The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Jun 18, 2015 11:38AM Alibeths wrote:



Dx 4/29/2013, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 5/13/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Surgery 10/6/2013 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Dx 3/13/2015, IDC, 1/7 nodes, ER-, HER2- Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol)
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Jun 19, 2015 03:54AM Geo wrote:

After my mother first chemo I developed some sleep problems and it got a lot worse after my surgeries. Still I can't sleep without taking melatonin. My primary doctor recommended it because she said I was anxious and the lack of sleep was a side effect.

Years ago, I took Valium and felt like a zombi, walking around and bumping with things. Horrible.

Surgery 11/17/2014 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap

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