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Dana-Farber Sleep Education Class Helping Cancer Survivors Rest Better

BOSTON (CBS) - Many cancer survivors have trouble sleeping, so the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is offering a sleep education class to change that.

Ken Giacoppo struggles with insomnia, and since being diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago, it's gotten worse.

"I'm just fatigued constantly all the time during the day, so I take cat naps," he said.

The stress of having cancer and the grueling treatments can all impact a patient's sleep.

"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," said Dana-Farber Dr. Eric Zhou, who is authoring a study on the issue.

Giacoppo is taking Dana-Farber's sleep education class for cancer survivors. It covers good sleep hygiene, such as no screen time before bed and napping less once you've completed treatment.

But Dr. Zhou believes the key is giving patients guidance on implementing it.

"A consistent wake time is a very important fundamental element of good sleep," he said. "These are the kinds of things we sat down, analyzed and broke down for each individual survivor."

A new study of more than 50 cancer patients finds more than 40 percent had their moderate to severe insomnia cured after one class.

Giacoppo plans to use what he's learned at home.

"I can't get anything done I am so tired. So I'm hoping that this is going to help out, just a small part of my life," he said.

For him, a better night's sleep will mean a better time spent with family.

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