Chronic Insomnia Disorder

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Abstract

Purpose of Review: Neurologists, along with all health care providers, commonly encounter patients with insomnia, which is a condition that impacts patients’ underlying neurologic conditions in a bidirectional manner. While chronic insomnia is one of the most common sleep disturbances, only a small proportion of individuals with this condition discuss their sleep problems with their providers. When insomnia is described, it is more often in relationship to another medical problem, as opposed to an independent condition. In neurology practice, multiple factors including pain, movement disorders, sleep apnea, and medications that act on the central nervous system often contribute to insomnia. An all-inclusive approach is necessary when evaluating sleep problems in patients with insomnia.

Recent Findings: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications for the treatment of insomnia that target specific receptor systems in the brain and incorporate several unique pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic profiles that can represent customized therapy for specific insomnia phenotypes. FDA-approved medications for insomnia include γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-modulating benzodiazepine receptor agonists, a melatonin receptor agonist, a histamine receptor antagonist, and the newest approved option, a hypocretin (orexin) receptor antagonist.

Summary: This article provides an evidence-based multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of insomnia, highlighting the rationale and utility of cognitive-behavioral therapy and pharmacologic interventions. Neurologists should be proactive in assessing the impact of underlying comorbidities on insomnia, particularly in the setting of psychiatric conditions such as depression, sleep disorders such as circadian rhythm disorders, and medical problems such as nocturia.

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