Brief behavioral therapy improves sleep in older adults with chronic insomnia

Clinical Question

Can brief behavioral therapy improve sleep in older adults with insomnia?

Bottom line

Although based on only a few studies, it appears that a brief 4-week behavioral therapy program will improve sleep quality in older adults with chronic insomnia. These findings underscore guidelines from the American College of Physicians and others to eschew drugs and use nonpharmacologic approaches for the initial management of insomnia. (LOE = 2a)

Overuse alert: This POEM aligns with the Canadian Geriatrics Society’s Choosing Wisely Canada recommendation: Don’t use benzodiazepines or other sedative-hypnotics in older adults as first choice for insomnia, agitation or delirium. Choosing Wisely Canada's hospital and primary care care toolkits provide tools to reduce inappropriate use of benzodiazepines.

Study design: Meta-analysis (randomized controlled trials)

Funding: Government

Setting: Various (meta-analysis)


Henry C. Barry, MD, MS
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI

Discuss this POEM



Impact assessment



CBT and Insomnia

Completely useless.


Sleep disorders in the elderly

Hard to swallow that a 4 week behavioural therapy would have impact on sleep quality in the elderly.

William Leslie G. Harvey

Full text articles available

I was pleased to find the specific techniques used in the study are available for free in the bibliography.