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Sleep Med. 2010 Aug;11(7):692-700. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2009.11.015.

Use of pharmacotherapy for insomnia in child psychiatry practice: A national survey.

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  • 1Brown Medical School, Rhode Island Hospital, 593 Eddy St., Potter Bldg., Suite 200 Providence, RI 02903, USA. Owensleep@gmail.com



To examine clinical practice patterns regarding non-prescription and prescription medication use for insomnia by child and adolescent psychiatrists.


Survey mailed to 6018 members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


The final sample (N=1273) reported that insomnia was a major problem in almost a third of their school-aged and adolescent patients and endorsed using medication to treat the insomnia in at least a quarter of these patients. Overall, 96% of respondents recommended at least one of the listed prescription medications in a typical month, and 88% recommended an over-the-counter medication. Alpha agonists were the most commonly prescribed insomnia medication for ADHD (81%), significantly higher than in MR/DD (67%), mood (40%), or anxiety disorders (31%). Trazodone was the most commonly prescribed insomnia medication for children with mood (78%) and anxiety disorders (72%). Antidepressants as a class were also commonly used for children in these diagnostic groups. Atypical antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and short-acting hypnotics were also more likely to be used in children with mood disorders. Melatonin was recommended by more than one-third of respondents. Mitigation of the effects of sleep disruption on daytime functioning was endorsed as an important rationale for the use of sleep medication; concerns about side effects and the lack of empirical support regarding efficacy were cited as significant barriers to their use.


Insomnia is a significant clinical problem in children treated by child psychiatrists for a variety of behavioral, neurodevelopmental, and psychiatric conditions. Management with a broad array of psychotropic medications is common and indicates a highly variable clinical approach to insomnia in this pediatric population.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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