NYMC Faculty Publications

Advances in the Treatment of Chronic Insomnia: A Narrative Review of New Nonpharmacologic and Pharmacologic Therapies

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Journal Title

Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment

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Document Type

Review Article

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Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Chronic insomnia disorder, which affects 6-10% of the population, is diagnostically characterized by ongoing difficulties with initiating or maintaining sleep occurring at least three times per week, persisting for at least 3 months, and associated with daytime impairment. While chronic insomnia is often considered a condition primarily related to impaired sleep, the disorder can also adversely affect domains of physical and mental health, quality of life, and daytime function, which highlights the importance of treating the multidimensional sleep disorder. Owing to misperceptions about the safety and effectiveness of treatment options, many individuals with insomnia may not seek professional treatment, and alternatively use ineffective home remedies or over-the-counter medications to improve sleep. Some physicians may even believe that insomnia is remediated by simply having the patient "get more sleep". Unfortunately, treatment of insomnia is not always that simple. The disorder's complex underlying pathophysiology warrants consideration of different nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment options. Indeed, recent insights gained from research into the pathophysiology of insomnia have facilitated development of newer treatment approaches with more efficacious outcomes. This narrative review provides a summary of the diagnostic criteria and pathophysiology of insomnia and its subtypes. Further, this review emphasizes new and emerging nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments for chronic insomnia, including recent enhancements in approaches to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and the new dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA) pharmacologics. These advances in treatment have expanded the treatment options and are likely to result in improved outcomes in patients with chronic insomnia.