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Change in longitudinal trends in sleep quality and duration following breast cancer diagnosis: results from the Women’s Health Initiative

Breast cancer survivors frequently report sleep problems, but little research has studied sleep patterns longitudinally. We examined trends in sleep quality and duration up to 15 years before and 20 years after a diagnosis of breast cancer, over time among postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). We included 12,098 participants who developed invasive breast cancer after study enrollment. A linear mixed-effects model was used to determine whether the time trend in sleep quality, as measured by the WHI Insomnia Rating Scale (WHIIRS), a measure of perceived insomnia symptoms from the past 4 weeks, changed following a cancer diagnosis. To examine sleep duration, we fit a logistic regression model with random effects for both short (<6 h) and long (≥9 h) sleep. In addition, we studied the association between depressive symptoms and changes in WHIIRS and sleep duration. There was a significantly slower increase in the trend of WHIIRS after diagnosis (β = 0.06; p = 0.03), but there were non-significant increases in the trend of the probability of short or long sleep after diagnosis. The probability of depressive symptoms significantly decreased, though the decrease was more pronounced after diagnosis (p < 0.01). Trends in WHIIRS worsened at a relatively slower rate following diagnosis and lower depression rates may explain the slower worsening in WHIIRS. Our findings suggest that over a long period of time, breast cancer diagnosis does not adversely affect sleep quality and duration in postmenopausal women compared to sleep pre-diagnosis, yet both sleep quality and duration continue to worsen over time.

Authors: Beverly CM; Naughton MJ; Pennell ML; Foraker RE; Young G; Hale L; Feliciano EMC; Pan K; Crane TE; Danhauer SC; Paskett ED

NPJ Breast Cancer. 2018;4:15. Epub 2018-06-29.

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