Aromasin and Insomnia

Of the side effects reported with Aromasin, insomnia is one of the more common. However, it is difficult to determine if insomnia is because of the medication, other factors, or both, since clinical studies on cancer drugs do not use a placebo pill. If you are taking Aromasin and insomnia occurs, there are some things you can try, such as keeping a regular sleep-wake cycle and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the four to six hours before bedtime.

Does Aromasin Cause Insomnia?

Aromasin® (exemestane) is a prescription medicine used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women. As with other medicines, there are possible side effects with Aromasin. Insomnia appears to be one of the more common side effects of the medication. One clinical study has shown that up to 12.4 percent of people taking the drug reported insomnia as a side effect. In another study, a larger percentage of people (13.7 percent) reported insomnia with Aromasin, but 15.1 percent of those not taking Aromasin also reported insomnia (meaning that Aromasin decreased the risk of insomnia in this study).
People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Unrefreshing sleep.
However, it is difficult to tell if insomnia is caused by Aromasin or by other factors (such as the condition itself), due to the way the clinical studies of Aromasin were designed. In most non-cancer studies, a portion of the participants takes a placebo (sugar pill). This pill will not treat the condition and causes no side effects. Any side effect that does occur in the placebo group is because of the condition or other factors. By having people take a placebo, it is possible to compare the side effects between the group taking the medicine and those who are not taking the medicine. This allows researchers to see what, if any, impact the medicine has on increasing or decreasing a particular problem.
However, because it would be unethical to not treat breast cancer, there was no placebo group for any of the Aromasin studies. Therefore, it is difficult to tell if insomnia is due to Aromasin, other factors, or a combination of both.
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