The assessment and management of insomnia: an update

World Psychiatry. 2019 Oct;18(3):337-352. doi: 10.1002/wps.20674.


Insomnia poses significant challenges to public health. It is a common condition associated with marked impairment in function and quality of life, psychiatric and physical morbidity, and accidents. As such, it is important that effective treatment is provided in clinical practice. To this end, this paper reviews critical aspects of the assessment of insomnia and the available treatment options. These options include both non-medication treatments, most notably cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, and a variety of pharmacologic therapies such as benzodiazepines, "z-drugs", melatonin receptor agonists, selective histamine H1 antagonists, orexin antagonists, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and non-selective antihistamines. A review of the available research indicates that rigorous double-blind, randomized, controlled trials are lacking for some of the most commonly administered insomnia therapies. However, there are an array of interventions which have been demonstrated to have therapeutic effects in insomnia in trials with the above features, and whose risk/benefit profiles have been well characterized. These interventions can form the basis for systematic, evidence-based treatment of insomnia in clinical practice. We review this evidence base and highlight areas where more studies are needed, with the aim of providing a resource for improving the clinical management of the many patients with insomnia.

Keywords: Insomnia; anticonvulsants; antidepressants; antihistamines; antipsychotics; benzodiazepines; cognitive behavioral therapy; melatonin receptor agonists; orexin antagonists; pharmacotherapy; z-drugs.