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  • George L Muntingh Tygerberg Hospital Pharmacy
  • Michelle Viljoen University of the Western Cape
Keywords: insomnia, hypnotic, benzodiazepines, treatment


Insomnia is perhaps the most common type of sleep disorder in the family medicine population. It is best described as a persistent difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or a report of non-restorative sleep, accompanied by related daytime impairment. There is increasing evidence of a strong association between insomnia and various medical and psychiatric comorbidities. Diagnosis of insomnia and treatment planning rely on a thorough sleep history to address contributing and precipitating factors as well as maladaptive behaviours resulting in poor sleep. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is the mainstay of treatment and is a safe and effective approach. The key challenge of CBT-I is the lack of clinicians to implement it. The newer generation nonbenzodiazepines (e.g. zolpidem) are used as first-line pharmacotherapy for chronic insomnia. Newer drugs active on targets other than the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor are now available, but clear treatment guidelines are needed.

Author Biographies

George L Muntingh, Tygerberg Hospital Pharmacy
BPharm, PhD (Pharmacology) Tygerberg Hospital Pharmacy Tygerberg
Michelle Viljoen, University of the Western Cape
Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy School of Pharmacy The Faculty of Natural Sciences University of the Western Cape
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