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Sleep is a biological imperative, so one might wonder “what has psychology got to do with it?” A person's behaviours, thoughts, emotions and interactions with the environment inevitably serve for good, or for ill, as the “setting conditions” for the expression of sleep. Put simply, although sleep is not a psychological phenomenon, sleep has crucial behavioural dependencies. Consequently, the Psychobiological Inhibition Model can embrace numerous, potentially interacting, pathways to the persistence of this ubiquitous disorder, providing an overarching conceptual framework for why and how insomnia develops. The clinical guideline treatment for chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioural therapy. Although typically delivered as “talking therapy”, cognitive behavioural therapy is not some form of “psychobabble”. Rather, the Psychobiological Inhibition Model framework for insomnia articulates how specific techniques can correct the various ways in which the expression of normal sleep and circadian brain–behaviour relationships have become disrupted. Indeed, cognitive behavioural therapy is best conceived of as an approach to treatment rather than being one specific agent. A shift in emphasis towards a cognitive and behavioural therapeutics formulary would provide improved impetus to understanding of how insomnia develops, and of how it may best be treated in any given patient.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Sleep Research

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