Stimulus Control Therapy for Insomnia

Status: Strong Research Support


The main goal in stimulus control therapy is to reduce the anxiety or conditioned arousal individuals may feel when attempting to go to bed. Specifically, a set of instructions designed to reassociate the bed/bedroom with sleep and to re-establish a consistent sleep schedule are implimented. These include: 1) Going to bed only when sleepy; 2) Getting out of bed when unable to sleep; 3) Using the bed/bedroom only for sleep and sex (i.e., no reading, watching TV, etc); 4) Arising at the same time every morning; and 5) Avoiding naps.

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.
  • Morin, C.M., Hauri, P.J., Espie, C.A., Spielman, A.J., Buysse, D.J., & Bootzin, R.R. (1999). Nonpharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine review. Sleep, 22, 1134-1156.
  • Riedel B., Lichstein, K.L., Peterson, B.A., Means, M.K., Epperson, M.T., & Aguillarel, R.N. (1998). A comparison of the efficacy of stimulus control for medicated and nonmedicated insomniacs. Behavior Modification, 22, 3-28
  • Morin, C.M., & Azrin, N.H. Behavioral and cognitive treatments of geriatric insomnia (1988). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 748-753.
  • Morin, C.M., & Azrin, N.H. Stimulus control and imagery training in treating sleep-maintenance insomnia (1987). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 260-262.
  • Turner R.M., & Ascher, L.M. (1979). Controlled comparison of progressive relaxation, stimulus control, and paradoxical intention therapies for insomnia. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 47, 500-508.

Clinical Resources

  • Morin, C.M., & Espie, C. (2003). Insomnia: A clinical guide to assessment and treatment. New York: Kluwer Academic.
  • Bootzin, R.R., & Epstein, D.R. (2000). Stimulus control. In K.L. Lichstein & C.M. Morin (Eds.), Treatment of late-life insomnia (pp. 167-184). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Morin, C.M. (1993). Insomnia: Psychological assessment and management. New York: Guilford Press.

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: