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Eur Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;18(5):201-8.

The challenge of chronic insomnia: is non-nightly hypnotic treatment a feasible alternative?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Regensburg, Universit√§tsstrasse 84, 93053 Regensburg, Germany.


The adverse effects of insomnia on health and quality of life are matters receiving increasing attention. Yet, surveys have consistently shown that most people suffering from insomnia do not seek medical help, perhaps, in part, because of a concern of becoming dependent on hypnotic medication. The treatment of chronic insomnia poses a particular dilemma in that continuous hypnotic treatment is restricted in many countries to a maximum of 4 weeks, and behavioural treatment is not readily available. Non-nightly hypnotic treatment of chronic insomnia offers a promising alternative option for the many patients whose symptoms do not necessitate nightly drug intake, allaying fears of psychological dependence on medication and respecting regulatory constraints on hypnotic use while providing patients with adequate symptom relief. The practical feasibility and efficacy of this approach has been demonstrated with zolpidem using various treatment regimens and study designs. So far, six clinical trials have been completed on over 4000 patients. Published results show effective treatment of insomnia without any evidence of either adverse event associated with a discontinuous regimen or increased hypnotic use over the treatment period.

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