National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 2: Insomnia

Insomnia Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been demonstrated to be effective in improving sleep latency1 and sleep maintenance.2, 3, 4, 5 CBT often produces better long-term outcomes than pharmacotherapy.6 Drawbacks to CBT are that it is time-consuming for both therapist and patient, and the therapist’s need for specialized training. A recent study demonstrated that an abbreviated, user-friendly, two-session CBT process successfully reduced insomnia symptoms in primary care patients.7

CBT treatments for insomnia that can be administered by trained sleep or behavioral specialists include the following evidence-based treatments (each is described in more detail in the following sections):


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  3. Morin CM, Colecchi C, Stone J, Sood R, Brink D. Behavioral and pharmacological therapies for late-life insomnia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1999;281:991-999.
  4. Edinger JD, Wohlgemuth WK, Radtke RA, March GR, Quillian RE. Cognitive behavioral therapy for treatment of chronic primary insomnia: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2001;285:1856-1864.
  5. Edinger JD, Wohlgemuth WK, Krystal AD, Rice JR. Behavioral insomnia therapy for fibromyalgia patients: a randomized clinical trial. Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:2527-2535.
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