The efficacy of intensive sleep retraining for insomnia: A systematic review and research agenda

Hannah Scott, Darah Bree Bensen-Boakes, Nicole Lovato, Amy Reynolds, Michael Perlis, Leon Lack

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Intensive sleep retraining (ISR) is a brief behavioural treatment for sleep onset insomnia, administered in just a single overnight treatment session. This systematic review evaluates existing trials about the efficacy of intensive sleep retraining for treating insomnia, to inform whether there is enough evidence to recommend its use for clinical practice. A systematic literature search was conducted across three databases, yielding 108 results. Of these studies, three were deemed suitable for inclusion in this review. The included studies consistently reported significant reductions in insomnia symptoms following intensive sleep retraining, particularly decreases in sleep diary-derived sleep latency and increases in total sleep time. Based on these inconclusive but promising findings, a research agenda is proffered to test intensive sleep retraining as a treatment for insomnia. Large randomised controlled trials are needed to elucidate the potential benefits of intensive sleep retraining for different populations with insomnia, as are mechanistic trials to test which components underlie its seemingly therapeutic effects. Since more practical modalities of intensive sleep retraining administration have been developed, such trials are more feasible to conduct now than ever before.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13894
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Early online date21 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2023


  • cognitive and behavioural therapy for insomnia
  • insomnia disorder
  • sleep initiation and maintenance disorders
  • sleep onset insomnia


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