The effectiveness of stimulus control in cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia in adults: A systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Sleep Res, p.e14008 (2023)


<p>Stimulus control is part of the widely used cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia. However, there is a lack of knowledge about its mechanisms of action and effectiveness when used alone. This systematic review with network meta-analysis aimed to evaluate stimulus control efficacy when used alone compared with cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia or its components. The review also documented stimulus control mechanisms of action proposed by the authors. A search was conducted in several bibliographic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL, Psychology Behavioural Sciences Collection, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library) and in two registers from 1972 to June 2022. Randomised studies with adult participants presenting a diagnosis of insomnia and including at least one stimulus control instruction in a treatment group were included. Risk of bias was assessed with the Quality Assessment of Controlled Intervention Studies. Twenty-three studies were included and three network meta-analyses were conducted. The quality of included studies was generally poor. Results indicate that stimulus control is an effective intervention to improve insomnia compared with control conditions. Not all stimulus control instructions seem essential, especially those known to recondition the bedroom for sleep. The review challenges the classical conditioning hypothesis. Results should be interpreted cautiously given the small number of studies included, bias risk, and inconsistencies in the network meta-analysis. Rigorous research is needed in evaluating stimulus control efficacy and mechanisms.</p>

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