REVIEW – March 2017

Treating insomnia with mindfulness: a review

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Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disturbances. It worsens the prognoosis of several diseases and increases the risk of developing different chronic diseases. Insomnia is underdiagnosed and its treatment involves several issues regarding availability and tolerance.

The aim of this review was to clarify the scientific basis of mindfulness meditation treatment for insomnia. The focus is placed on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based treatment of insomnia (MBTI) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), as well as on meditative movement (e.g. yoga), which is less structured than the previous three methods.

Based on the results, it seems that MBSR, MBTI, MBCT and meditative movement are effective and safe treatments that can also be provided remotely. The problem that arises is the fact there are not many randomized or at least single-blinded studies in this area. Nor are mindfulness-based treatments usually compared with existing treatments to evaluate which of these could be more effective and attainable.

In summary, mindfulness based treatments are good candidates to be effective and evidence-based treatments for insomnia. Mindfulness-based treatment could in the first place be offered to insomnia patients, who may or may not have any comorbidity, by their family doctor.