Biofeedback-Based Treatments for Insomnia

Status: Modest Research Support


Biofeedback is a training technique that conveys information about a patients’ bodily functions that are typically considered outside conscious control. For instance, EMG biofeedback provides information about muscular activity. When treating insomnia, biofeedback is often used in conjunction with relaxation training or other behavioral approaches. The goal is to help raise patients’ awareness of their physiological processes, so that they might gain control over them. For instance, biofeedback may help people recognize both when they are having an exaggerated physical stress response, and well as to what they are responding. Eventually, this is thought to help people learn to control and minimize their stress response, thus leading to healthier sleep.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

  • Morin, C., Bootzin, R., Buysse, D., Edinger, J., Espie, C., & Lichstein, K. (2006). Psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia: Update of the recent evidence (1998-2004). Sleep, 29, 1398-1414.
  • Barrowsky, E.I., Moskowitz, J., & Zweig, J.B. (1990). Biofeedback for disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 602, 97-103.
  • Sanavio, E., Vidotto, G., Bettinardi, O., Roletto, T., & Zorzi, M. (1990). Behavior therapy for DIMS: Comparison of three treatment procedures with follow-up. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 18, 151-167.
  • VanderPlate, C., & Eno, E.N. (1983). Electromyograph biofeedback and sleep onset insomnia: Comparison of treatment and placebo. Behavioral Engineering, 8, 146-153
  • Nicassio, P.M., Boylan, M.B., & McCabe, T.G. (1982). Progressive relaxation, EMG biofeedback and biofeedback placebo in the treatment of sleep-onset insomnia. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 55,159-166.
  • Freedman, R., & Papsdorf, J.D. (1976). Biofeedback and progressive relaxation treatment of sleep-onset insomnia: a controlled, all-night investigation. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 1, 253-271.

Clinical Resources

The Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback website provides detailed information on biofeedback, as well as information on treatment providers:http://www.aa

Training Opportunities

The Sleep Research Society Trainee Manual provides a variety of resources on training opportunities in basic clinical sleep research and sleep medicine. To access all trainee resources, click on ‘Show All Trainee Programs’ from the following link: