CBT is Better for Insomnia than Drugs

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) shows better results than medication for overcoming insomnia in a meta-analysis of 13 studies conducted over the past 30 years.  Generally, after 4 to 6 sessions of CBT training patients reported medium-to-large positive effects on their sleep, and the improvements were maintained for three to twelve months post treatment.

In the U.K., where this study was done, guidelines call for CBT to be used first for insomnia reported in general practice medical settings.  Medication is only given if CBT fails.  Thus, the researchers were seeking confirmation of the efficacy of the guidelines, which was found.  Most often, the CBT training itself was delivered by nurses, social workers or counselors.

Further study is needed to find how interventions to help people taper off medications they were previously using impact the course and effectiveness of CBT for insomnia.


Judith R Davidson, Ciara Dickson and Han Han. Cognitive behavioural treatment for insomnia in primary care: a systematic review of sleep outcomes.  British Journal of General Practice 2019; 69 (686): e657-e664. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp19X705065

Additional resources from Moodsurfing:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy – Is it for you?

Chronic Insomnia Treatments

CBT for insomnia reduces suicidal thoughts