Sleep and Cognition in Breast Cancer Survivors

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy For Insomnia and Cognitive Complaints in Breast Cancer Survivors

We are recruiting 30 breast cancer survivors who have completed primary treatment for non-metastatic breast cancer at least 12 months prior to study entry and report insomnia and memory problems to participate in a study looking at the impact of a non-medication based treatment for Insomnia called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) on subjective and objective cognitive impairment in women who have completed treatment for breast cancer. 

We are looking to see whether changes in insomnia are associated with changes in perceived cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, and/or fatigue. 

This research is important because it will help us understand whether we can improve memory, concentration, and attention in breast cancer survivors by treating insomnia. This information may help breast cancer survivors resume normal functioning more quickly after treatment.

You may be eligible to participate if you meet the following criteria:

  • Received a non-metastatic breast cancer diagnosis and have completed all adjuvant treatments (i.e. chemotherapy and/or radiation) at least 12 months prior to study entry
  • Report dissatisfaction with your memory, concentration, and/or attention 
  • Experience difficulty falling and/or staying asleep at least 3 times per week for at least the past 3 months 
  • Can speak and understand English fluently

You may not be eligible if you have:

  • A major sensory deficit (e.g. blindness)
  • A neurologic or medical condition that is known to affect cognitive function or a history of any other condition that may affect cognitive functioning (e.g. traumatic brain injury)
  • A history of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization
  • A history of cranial radiation
  • Untreated obstructive sleep apnea or another sleep disorder

What Does This Study Involve?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a multicomponent intervention designed to address behaviors and thoughts that are known to influence the development and maintenance of sleep difficulties. In this treatment you will meet with a trained and experienced therapist to receive 7 sessions of CBT-I over 8 weeks. You will receive weekly sessions for the first 6 weeks followed by a final session two weeks later. Each CBT-I session takes about 60 minutes of your time. You will be asked to complete sleep diaries throughout your treatment with CBT-I and these will be reviewed and used to tailor your treatment.

Participation in this study also involves completing assessments of sleep, thinking and memory, psychological wellbeing, and hot flashes at three time-points: before you start treatment with CBT-I, after you complete treatment with CBT-I at week 8, and again two months later at week 16. The total time to complete each assessment is estimated to be 45-60 minutes. You will also be asked to wear an actigraph and record the details of your sleep for one week following each assessment period. An actigraph is a wrist-worn device similar to a watch that can record activity levels throughout the day and night. Recording your sleep details is estimated to take 2 minutes per day. 

If you are interested in this study, or unsure of whether you are eligible, please contact us at so we can determine help you decide whether participation is right for you.



Primary Investigator:

 Sheila N. Garland, PhD 

(Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science and Discipline of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine)


John Thoms, MD, FRCPC (Division of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine), 

Melanie Seal MD, FRCPC (Division of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine), 

Supported by a grant from The Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute