TREATMENT: Stimulus Control Therapy for Insomnia

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Brief Summary

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. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/29.11.1398
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/22.8.1134
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1177/01454455980221001
  • Morin, C.M., & Azrin, N.H. (1988). Behavioral and cognitive treatments of geriatric insomnia. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 748-753. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.56.5.748
  • Morin, C.M., & Azrin, N.H. (1987). Stimulus control and imagery training in treating sleep-maintenance insomnia. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55, 260-262. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.55.2.260
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-006x.47.3.500

Clinical Resources


Training Opportunities

The Sleep Research Society provides a variety of resources on training opportunities in basic clinical sleep research and sleep medicine: https://sleepresearchsociety.org/resources-page/.

Treatment Resources

Note: The resources provided below are intended to supplement not replace foundational training in mental health treatment and evidence-based practice