Combined therapeutics for insomnia: should our first approach be behavioral or pharmacological?

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sleep Med, Volume 7 Suppl 1, p.S15-9 (2006)


Adult, Chronic Disease, Cognitive Therapy, Combined Modality Therapy, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Hypnotics and Sedatives, Patient Compliance, Relaxation Therapy, Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders, Treatment Outcome


<p>Despite the interest in combining therapeutics many issues remain to be resolved regarding the combination of behavioral treatment and pharmacotherapy for insomnia. Studies examining the relative advantages of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy have found that improvements may be achieved more quickly with drug treatment but are more sustained with CBT. Combining modes of treatment is not necessarily superior to monotherapy because long-term effects can vary between patients. Various modes of combination are possible, with one or other type of treatment being started or discontinued depending on the phase of treatment and the patient's response. Which treatment to initiate first, or whether to run treatments concurrently, depends on factors such as the nature of the insomnia, treatment history, comorbid conditions, acceptability of treatment to the patient, and treatment cost or availability. Issues of dosage, treatment duration or whether treatment should be given continuously or intermittently will have an effect on how these treatment types can be integrated to provide the best outcome for the patient. A detailed look at the efficacy of behavioral and pharmacological therapies with regard to different outcome measures gives some indication of how these different types of treatment may act in a complementary fashion; observations that may be exploited in the integration of behavioral with pharmacological approaches in clinical practice.</p>

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