General Principles of Treatment Treatments for sleep disorders generally can be grouped into three categories: 1) behavioral/ psychotherapeutic treatments, 2) medications, and 3) other somatic treatments. None of these general approaches is sufficient for all patients with sleep disorders. Rather, the choice of a specific treatment depends on the patient's diagnosis, medical and psychiatric history, and preferences, as well as the expertise of the treating clinician. In general, medications and somatic treatments provide more rapid symptomatic relief from sleep disturbances. On the other hand, some emerging evidence suggests that treatment gains with behavioral treatment of insomnia may be more durable than those obtained with medications.

Some sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, are best treated pharmacologically, whereas others, such as chronic and primary insomnia, are more amenable to behavioral interventions. The management of sleep disturbances that are secondary to mental, medical, or substance abuse disorders should focus on the underlying conditions.

For most sleep disorders, behavioral/psychotherapeutic and pharmacological approaches are not incompatible and can be effectively combined to maximize therapeutic benefits.


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