BOSTON (CBS) – Many cancer survivors have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Now research shows a new approach can help them get a good night’s rest.

The stress of having cancer and the grueling treatments can all impact patients’ sleep. Eric Zhou, Ph.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says, “These are all insults to the system that may disrupt sleep that in the short term, people cope with reasonably well, but then as they persist the consequences of insufficient sleep or fragmented sleep are very real.”

Ken Giacoppo struggles with insomnia, and since being diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago, it has gotten worse. He says, “I’m just fatigued constantly, all the time during the day, so I take cat naps during the day.” So Giacoppo is taking a sleep education class for cancer survivors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The class covers good sleep hygiene, such as no screen time before bed and napping less once you’ve completed treatment.

Study author Dr. Eric Zhou says the key is giving patients guidance on implementing it. “A consistent wake time is a very important of the fundamental element of good sleep,” according to Dr. Zhou. He says, “These are the kinds of things we sat down and analyzed, broke down for each individual survivor.” The study of more than 50 cancer patients finds over 40% had their moderate to severe insomnia cured after one class.

Giacoppo plans to use what he’s learned at home, saying “I can’t get anything done I’m so tired. So I’m hoping that this is going to help out, just a small part of my life.” Giacoppo says a better night’s sleep will mean better time spent with family.

Insufficient sleep is a big problem for many of us with 1 in 3 Americans not getting the recommended amount of sleep a night, according to the CDC.

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