Research has found a link between getting too much or too little sleep and an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Having lung cancer may also impact your sleep.

Getting enough high quality sleep is important for supporting your physical and mental well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per day. Some adults may need more sleep than others to feel rested.

Some research suggests that sleeping too little or too much may raise your risk of developing lung cancer. Getting too little or too much sleep may also negatively affect your survival or quality of life with lung cancer.

If you develop lung cancer, you may find that it negatively affects your ability to sleep or the quality of your sleep. It may increase your risk of certain sleep disorders.

Read on to learn about the potential links between sleep and lung cancer.

Although research findings have been mixed, some studies suggest that sleeping too little or too much may increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

A 2023 research review found that short sleep duration and long sleep duration were both linked to higher lung cancer risk than moderate sleep duration. The definition of short versus moderate versus long sleep duration varied from one study to another.

A 2022 analysis of 382,966 people in the United Kingdom found that sleeping more than 8 hours per day was linked to increased risk of lung cancer. People who had frequent difficulty sleeping and those who stayed up later on average also had increased lung cancer risk.

A 2023 study found that compared to 7–8 hours of sleep time, both shorter and longer durational sleep times were associated with an increased cancer risk.

More research is necessary to learn whether differences in sleep duration or quality cause differences in lung cancer risk or survival. Although research suggests that there’s a correlation between sleep deprivation and cancer, more research is needed to determine whether it’s actually a causation.

It’s possible that sleep affects your metabolism, hormone levels, or immune function in ways that affect your lung cancer risk or survival. But it’s also possible that other factors such as mental health or physical activity levels affect both sleep and lung cancer in ways that explain the links.

You might find that you sleep less than usual or more than usual after developing lung cancer. You might find it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up.

The quality of your sleep might also be negatively affected.

Multiple factors may affect your sleep, including:

  • increased inflammation from lung cancer
  • cancer symptoms or treatment side effects, such as:
    • pain
    • nausea
    • shortness of breath
  • mental health challenges, such as:
    • stress
    • anxiety
    • depression

Napping during the day to manage cancer-related fatigue may also affect your sleep at night.

Other health conditions or lifestyle habits that aren’t related to cancer may affect sleep, too.


According to a 2021 research review, people with lung cancer have an increased risk of insomnia. This is a sleep disorder that involves difficulty getting enough high quality sleep.

Potential signs and symptoms of insomnia include:

  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • waking up often or for longer periods while trying to sleep
  • feeling unrested or tired, even after a full night’s sleep

Sleep apnea

Lung cancer may also raise your risk of obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, your upper airway becomes blocked multiple times per hour while sleeping. It interrupts your breathing and lowers your oxygen intake.

Potential signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • pauses in your breathing during sleep
  • gasping for air while sleeping
  • loud snoring
  • feeling unrested, even after a full night’s sleep

Other risk factors may also increase your risk of insomnia, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders. It’s possible for people with lung cancer to develop sleep disorders that are unrelated to the cancer.

Your doctor can help you learn whether sleep challenges or changes in your energy level may be related to lung cancer or another condition.

Let your doctor know if you’re finding it difficult to sleep or you feel more tired than usual.

Your doctor might adjust your cancer treatment plan if they suspect that cancer symptoms or treatment side effects are affecting your sleep or energy levels. They may adjust your treatment dosage or prescribe a new treatment to limit symptoms or side effects.

Your doctor may also prescribe additional treatments to help you sleep or refer you to a sleep specialist if they suspect you may have a sleep disorder.

Your doctor or sleep specialist may prescribe:

  • medication to treat insomnia or another sleep disorder
  • continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to treat sleep apnea
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other counseling to help you manage or adjust feelings, thoughts, or behaviors that disrupt your sleep

Your specific treatment plan will depend on your symptoms and their underlying cause.

Making certain changes to your bedroom environment or lifestyle habits may improve your sleep.

For example, you might find the following strategies helpful:

  • Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool place.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Avoid eating or drinking a lot of fluids close to bedtime.
  • Avoid looking at your phone screen, computer screen, or television close to bedtime.
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine or use deep breathing, guided meditation, or other relaxation techniques to help you unwind before sleep.

Talk with your doctor or sleep specialist to learn about other lifestyle changes that may help improve your sleep.

They might recommend changes to your physical activity level. Regular low impact exercise may help improve your sleep, limit fatigue, and support overall health. But pushing yourself too hard may increase fatigue, and exercising too close to bedtime may interfere with sleep.

They might also recommend changes to your napping habits. You might find it helpful to nap during the day to manage fatigue or sleepiness. But napping too much may interfere with your sleep at night.

Some research suggests that getting too little or too much sleep may increase your chances of developing lung cancer. It’s possible that getting too little or too much sleep may also affect lung cancer survival.

However, more research is necessary to understand the links between sleep and lung cancer.

If you develop lung cancer, you might find that symptoms or treatment side effects negatively affect your sleep. Anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges may also contribute to sleep difficulties.

Let your doctor know if you’re finding it difficult to sleep or feeling more tired or fatigued than usual. They may recommend changes to your treatment plan, lifestyle habits, or bedroom environment.

They may also refer you to a sleep specialist or other specialist for support.