Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia disorder: Extending the stepped care model

J Sleep Res. 2023 Dec;32(6):e14016. doi: 10.1111/jsr.14016. Epub 2023 Aug 16.


Despite cognitive behaviour therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) being the first-line intervention for the disorder, it is often not readily available to patients in need. The stepped care model (SCM) represents an approach to facilitating efficient and wide-ranging provision of evidence-based care to those with insomnia. The SCM reflects a pyramid of therapeutics based on CBT-I gradually increasing in clinical intensity and addressing clinical complexity. By applying CBT-I through the SCM it is hoped that the treatment gap can be bridged such that not only more patients can be reached, but that clinical resource can be more effectively distributed, with patients receiving more tailored care as needed. Nevertheless, this should not be done at the risk of a lower quality of care being offered, and high-standard training for clinicians and scrutiny of non-clinician led interventions remains important. As national health laws within European countries have substantial differences, the application of the SCM as it relates to the treatment of insomnia may be challenged by contrasting interpretations. In order that the SCM is appropriately implemented: (a) only evidence-based CBT-I treatments should be promoted within the model; (b) clinicians involved in SCM should be suitably qualified to offer CBT in general, and have appropriate further training in CBT-I; (c) professionals involved in interventions not included in the SCM, but related to it, such as preventive and educational programmes, diagnostic procedures, and pharmacological treatments, should also have good knowledge of the SCM in order to promote correct allocation to the appropriate interventional step.

Keywords: European Academy of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia; cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I); insomnia; stepped care model (SCM).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy* / methods
  • Educational Status
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome