Hypnotic taper with or without self-help treatment of insomnia: a randomized clinical trial

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Apr;75(2):325-35. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.75.2.325.


This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a minimal intervention focusing on hypnotic discontinuation and cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) for insomnia. Fifty-three adult chronic users of hypnotics were randomly assigned to an 8-week hypnotic taper program, used alone or combined with a self-help CBT. Weekly hypnotic use decreased in both conditions, from a nearly nightly use at baseline to less than once a week at posttreatment. Nightly dosage (in lorazepam equivalent) decreased from 1.67 mg to 0.12 mg. Participants who received CBT improved their sleep efficiency by 8%, whereas those who did not remained stable. Total wake time decreased by 52 min among CBT participants and increased by 13 min among those receiving the taper schedule alone. Total sleep time remained stable throughout withdrawal in both CBT and taper conditions. The present findings suggest that a systematic withdrawal schedule might be sufficient in helping chronic users stop their hypnotic medication. The addition of a self-help treatment focusing on insomnia, a readily available and cost-effective alternative to individual psychotherapy, produced greater sleep improvement.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Drug Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Benzodiazepines