Durability of treatment response to zolpidem with three different maintenance regimens: a preliminary study

Sleep Med. 2015 Sep;16(9):1160-8. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.06.015. Epub 2015 Jul 7.


Background and aim: At present, there is no consensus regarding how to medically manage chronic insomnia in the long term. The unstated standard of practice is for patients to use hypnotics intermittently. The present study aimed to compare a partial reinforcement strategy with nightly and intermittent dosing strategies for its potential as a maintenance therapy.

Methods: A mixed model was used in the study. One between-subjects factor: group (n = 4). One repeated-measures factor: time (12 weekly assessments). A total of 74 subjects with chronic Insomnia were treated with 10 mg zolpidem for 4 weeks. Treatment respondents were randomized to nightly dosing with 10 mg or 5 mg (QHS-10 and QHS-5), intermittent dosing with 10 mg (IDS-10 [3-5 days weekly]), or partial reinforcement dosing with 10 mg (PRS-10 [nightly pill use with 50% active medication and 50% placebos]) for 12 weeks.

Results: It was found, in compliant subjects (n = 55), that all four strategies evaluated maintained treatment response over time (ie, prevented or delayed relapse). For the subjects that remained in remission, the subjects in the intermittent dosing group (IDS-10) group exhibited poorer sleep continuity.

Conclusions: While best considered a preliminary study, the present findings suggest that the partial reinforcement strategy may be a viable means toward maintaining treatment gains over time with less active medication.

Keywords: Insomnia; Maintenance therapy; Partial reinforcement; Placebos; Zolpidem.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Zolpidem


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Pyridines
  • Zolpidem