Pharmacological Management of Insomnia

Sarika Madari, Raphael Golebiowski, Meghna P. Mansukhani, Bhanu Prakash Kolla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Insomnia is a highly prevalent condition associated with significant morbidity, reduction in quality of life, and increase in healthcare costs, and is a risk factor for multiple physical and mental disorders. The primary treatment modality is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) but this is associated with difficulties with access and higher cost as well as poor response in some patients. Therefore, pharmacotherapy for insomnia is common and hypnotic agents are among the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States. Older medications for insomnia are limited by their side effect burden and narrow therapeutic window. Newer hypnotics, on the other hand, have been shown to have a better safety profile and longer term efficacy. While some studies have shown that long-term hypnotic use is associated with adverse outcomes, the current evidence is equivocal. The decision to treat chronic insomnia disorder with long-term hypnotics should be individualized and balance the potential risks of continuing hypnotic medication use with the risks of untreated persistent insomnia and associated functional limitations. This clinical review discusses the currently available medication options to treat insomnia, their mechanisms of action, dosing, and side effect profiles. This review also provides guidance on long-term management of hypnotics and the use of these medications in the elderly, those with medical comorbidities, and other special populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-52
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Insomnia
  • hypnotics
  • medication
  • pharmacotherapy
  • sedatives
  • sleep
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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