Shorter Sleep Duration May be Linked to Worse Mental Well-being in Women Newly Diagnosed with Breast Cancer


Only 20% of the patient population were reported as being “very good” sleepers when it comes to sleep disturbances.

Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality were associated with worse mental well-being in patients who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer (BC), according to a recent study presented at the 2023 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in San Antonio, Texas. Mild sleep disturbance were enough to worsen patient well-being statistically and clinically, although sleep timing (the time at which a person goes to sleep) was not clinically associated with worse quality of life (QOL), according to study data.1

“There was no association between sleep timing with either physical or mental well-being,” said study author Lin Yang, PhD, a researcher with the Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at Cancer Care Alberta, part of Alberta Health Services, during a presentation at SABCS.1

Top View of Young Woman Sleeping Cozily on a Bed in Bedroom at Night

Image credit: Gorodenkoff |

Investigators in Canada conducted the Alberta Moving Beyond Breast Cancer Cohort (AMBER) Study to understand the link between sleep health and physical and mental wellness in patients with newly diagnosed BC.1

The trial included 1409 women in Alberta, Canada, who were newly diagnosed with stage 1 to 3c BC between 2012 and 2019. Women were asked to fill out the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), which measures sleep duration and timing. The index also evaluates sleep latency, efficiency, disturbance, medications, and daytime dysfunction. Researchers also administered the SF-36 version-2, a health survey that evaluates patient QOL.1

The results of the PSQI showed that many BC survivors experience suboptimal scores based on index measures, Yang explained during the presentation. More than 50% of patients had sleep efficiency below 85%, and at least 35% of patients had taken a sleep medication in the past month. Worse scores might be associated with worse mental health outcomes.1,2

More specifically, “sleep duration was associated with worse mental well-being,” Yang said during the session. Short sleep duration (less than 6 hours of sleep per night) was linked and worse mental well-being.1

However, shorter duration of sleep did not appear to affect physical wellbeing, and the same goes for sleep timing. Whether bedtime was between 10 and 11 pm, 11 pm to 12 am, or after 12 am, authors observed no clinical relationship between bed timing and physical or mental well-being, according to authors.1

Although mild sleep disturbance was associated with worse QOL measures, more than 50% of all the women with newly-diagnosed BC experienced impaired sleep quality, study authors wrote. Furthermore, only 20% of patients scored “very good” on sleep disturbances, and 29% scored “very good” on daytime disfunction measures.1

Researchers concluded that more interventions targeting sleep health could improve the mental and physical wellbeing of patients who are newly diagnosed with BC.1


1. Yang L; Wang Q; McNeil J, et al. Association of Sleep Health with Quality of Life among Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer: Baseline Results from the AMBER Cohort Study. Presented on December 5, 2023, at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (December 5-9, 2023). Accessed on December 8, 2023.

2. Brown C. Shorter Sleep Duration, Worse Sleep Quality Linked With Reduced Mental Well-Being in Breast Cancer. Cancer Nurses Today. December 1, 2023. Accessed on December 7, 2023.

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