Current Treatment Options in Neurology

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 342–349 | Cite as

Nonpharmacologic treatment of insomnia

  • Melanie K. Means
  • Margaret D. Lineberger
  • Jack D. Edinger

Opinion statement

Insomnia is a widespread and debilitating disorder. Regardless of the initial cause, it may assume a chronic course perpetuated by psychological and behavioral factors. Although sedative-hypnotic medications are the most common treatment for insomnia, they pose certain risks such as adverse effects and dependence. Furthermore, medications target symptoms and fail to address the underlying perpetuating mechanisms.

There are many nonpharmacologic treatment options for insomnia, including cognitive/behavioral methods, relaxation strategies, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches. Most CAM therapies lack sufficient scientific evidence to recommend their use. Over the past 30 years, cognitive-behavioral therapies have emerged as the treatment of choice for chronic insomnia. These therapies target behavioral, cognitive, and conditioning factors underlying insomnia, thereby restoring normal sleep-wake functioning. The effectiveness of these therapies is well established. They compare favorably to pharmacologic approaches, with the added benefits of few or no adverse effects and no risk of abuse or dependence. Perhaps most importantly, behavioral insomnia therapies offer a potential cure for the insomnia, instead of the symptom-focused approach provided by medications. Despite the proven success of cognitive-behavioral therapies, they are not widely available to patients with insomnia because of a paucity of behavioral sleep specialists. Efforts are now being made to disseminate these treatments to meet the demand. Emerging therapies hold promise for further refinement and development of successful treatments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie K. Means
    • 1
  • Margaret D. Lineberger
  • Jack D. Edinger
  1. 1.Psychology ServiceDurhamUSA

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