Does Insomnia Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer?


Insomnia is the inability to sleep during night. Our body needs a certain amount of sleep during the 24 hour of day and night cycle. We sleep during the night because it is dark and quiet, which is required for the brain to slow down and stop taking information from the environment, thereby causing us to fall asleep.


Why is uninterrupted sleep required?

During the sleeping period, the brain organizes the information which was gathered during the day. Apart from these, there are also other activities that the brain carries out when we are sleeping. This includes creation of certain chemicals in the brain which regulates growth and development of cells in the body.

The night and day sleep pattern is controlled by our internal clock. The internal body clock maintains the distinction between day and night, sleep, and wakefulness.

Lack of sleep causes the disruption of molecular machinery that generates melatonin which in turn controls the rhythm of the internal clock. The day and night wakefulness and sleep patterns get unsettled and cause problems in maintaining melatonin levels.

Association between poor sleep and prostate cancer

Usually less sleep is considered to be a virtue of hard working people. But sleep deprivation is a serious health hazard.

There have been many studies linking cancer development and poor sleep. According to Li Li, an Associate Professor at Case, Western Reserve University School of Medicine, lack of sleep causes less production of melatonin.

Melatonin is a natural hormone which is linked to DNA repair. In studies on mice and rats, melatonin has been found to reduce cancer growth. Less melatonin affects the natural DNA sequencing causing cells to behave abnormally.

Sleep deprivation also causes insulin resistance, which in turn increases cancer risk.

Studies linking prostate cancer and sleep deprivation

A study was carried out by Lara Sigurdardottir and her team at the center of Public Health Sciences, University of Iceland. The team surveyed 2,102 men for sleep patterns over long period of time.

The team surmised after adjustments to various factors that:

• Sleep deprived men had 2.1 times more chances of developing prostate cancers than those without sleep problems.

• Those with severe sleep problems had more than three times increased risk of advanced prostate cancer.

A link was established between rotation shift workers and elevated risk of prostate cancer. A study done in Japan reported that there is 3 times more risk among people who work on rotating shifts compared with day workers. The shift in working hours causes sleep patterns to be disrupted, resulting in sleep deprivation.

Exposure to strong electric light at sleep hours

There have been links between exposure to electric light at night and risk of cancer. It has been found that very intense lighting during sleep causes disruption and melatonin production which leads to increased risk of prostate cancer.

Although we are far from complete understanding of how prostate cancer is associated with sleep deprivation, one thing is clear: there is a definite link between lack of sleep and high risk of prostate cancer.

Tips to help you sleep better

If you suffer from insomnia, it is necessary to plan some strategies to help you get some deep restorative sleep every night. You may want to experiment with some common techniques that promote sleep. Not all techniques work for everyone, the key is to keep on experimenting to find out which ones do.

The first step is to get synced with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Follow a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time. Take smart afternoon naps to make up for lost sleep. Don’t oversleep during nap-time. If you find yourself drowsy way before bedtime, engage in other activities till you can hit the bed at the right time.

Keep on experimenting till you get it right.

This article is intended for your general knowledge only, Learn More.


  1. Hi Sameer,

    Really useful information you shared in this post, I used to sleep in electric lights but later I changed my habit.. so that I can reduce electricity bills ;). I wasn’t aware that sleeping in electric nights is bad for our health.

    Sleep is really essential for every human being, and having fixed schedule for your sleep is crucial.


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