About one in every seven Canadians have difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep. The Management of Chronic Insomnia Tool was developed to guide primary care providers in assessing and managing insomnia using non-pharmacological and pharmacological options in the general adult population.

Question #1: Use of sedative hypnotics, such as benzodiazepines or Z-drugs, can increase total sleep time by 52 minutes (compared to placebo).

Question #2: Behaviours such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule; sleeping only when tired; limiting caffeine and alcohol; and avoiding light-emitting devices before bedtime are representative of:

Question #3: The five most commonly prescribed medications likely to disrupt sleep are:



Management of Chronic Insomnia Tool
Management of Chronic Insomnia tool

 Chronic insomnia can impact both daily functioning and quality of life. The Management of Chronic Insomnia Tool addresses  what providers should do when a patient is concerned about their lack of sleep.

The tool also discusses appropriate management options, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) and pharmacotherapy regimens to support primary care providers in their practice.

Divided into six sections, the tool highlights the following:

  1. Addressing and optimizing the management of any underlying medical, psychiatric or environmental causes
  2. Considering pharmacological causes of insomnia
  3. Non pharmacological options
  4. Pharmacotherapy
  5. Benzodiazepine or Z-drug Tapering
  6. Special populations

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Project Overview

Approximately half of the people who report insomnia symptoms also have multiple health problems. We developed the Management of Chronic Insomnia tool to help primary care providers identify patients who report having chronic insomnia and those who do not as well.

Development Process

The Management of Chronic Insomnia tool was developed using the CEP’s integrated knowledge translation approach. This approach ensures that providers are engaged throughout the development processes through the application of user centred design methodology. Clinical leadership of the resource was provided by Dr. Jose Silveira and Dr. Deanna Telner. Clinical experts were also engaged to provide feedback on the tool.

The Management of Chronic Insomnia tool is one of several resources developed as part of the 2014 to 2017 Knowledge Translation in Primary Care Initiative. This multi-year initiative was a collaboration between the Centre for Effective Practice (CEP), Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP), and Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO). Funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, this initiative supported primary care providers with the development of a series of clinical tools and health information resources. Learn more about the Knowledge Translation in Primary Care Initiative.

As part of this initiative, CEP conducted a Primary Care Needs Assessment to determine topics of interest to primary care providers. In this survey, providers identified the need for more effective resources to help manage chronic insomnia.

Meet the Team

 The need for a more effective approach to manage chronic insomnia was identified by Ontario primary care providers as part of the Knowledge Translation in Primary Care Initiative. The Centre for Effective Practice enlisted the collaboration of clinical leads and a clinical working group to create the tool.

Clinical Leads

Jose Silveira Head ShotJose Silveira B.Sc., M.D., FRCPC, Dip. ABAM
Dr. Jose Silveira is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto; Psychiatrist-in-Chief at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto as well as Medical Director of Mental Health and Addiction Programs. He works closely with primary care physicians and has been part of the Ontario College of Family Physician’s Collaborative Mental Health Network since 2000 as a clinical resource, chair and steering committee member. Dr. Silveira’s scholarship has focused on knowledge translation into primary mental health and addiction care with an emphasis on safety.


Deanna TelnerDeanna Telner, MD, MEd, CCFP, FCFP 
Dr. Deanna Telner is a family physician at the community-based, academic teaching site, South East Toronto Family Health Team. She is involved in teaching medical students, residents and colleagues. She is an Assistant Professor and part-time researcher in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto. Her area of research interest is in postgraduate and continuing education. Dr. Telner has been extensively involved in the development of online clinical modules for primary care providers.


A clinical working group comprised of a nurse practitioner and a family physician participated in the development of this tool. Members include:

  • Claudia Mariano, nurse practitioner
  • Dana Newman, family physician

Thank you to all providers involved for their time and expertise.

Supporting Material

Here are some additional resources and sources of information. These supporting materials are hosted by external organizations and we cannot guarantee the accuracy and accessibility of their links. CEP will make every effort to keep these links up to date.

Supporting Materials

  1. Sleep Disorders Questionnaire
  2. Sleep Diary (patient can fill out)
  3. Insomnia Severity Index (patient can fill out)*
    C. M. Morin, G. Belleville, L. Belanger, H. Ivers (2011). The Insomnia Severity
    Index: Psychometric indicators to detect insomnia cases and evaluate
    treatment response. Sleep, 34, 601-608. © Morin, C.M. (1993, 1996, 2000, 2006).
  4. Epworth Sleepiness Scale*
    Murray W. Johns. A new method for measuring daytime sleepiness: the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Sleep, 1991; 14 (6): 540-545. ESS © MW Johns 1990-1997. Used under License.
  6. Sleep Clinic Map
  7. Choosing Wisely Canada
    Insomnia and anxiety in older people: Sleeping pills are usually not the best
  8. Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal
    Sedative-Hypnotic Medication Deprescribing Brochure
  9. Additional supporting materials and resources that may be useful for providers
  10. MySleep101 – animated educational modules on sleep disorders
    Johns Hopkins Mobile medicine. Cost $5.49 CAD for mobile application.
  11. Sleepio Clinic:
    sleep medicine resources for healthcare professionals and researchers.
  12. Evidence-based desprescribing algorithm for benzodiazepine receptor

    Pottie K, Thompson W, Davies S, Grenier J, Sadowski C, Welch V, Holbrook A,
    Boyd C, Swenson JR, Ma A, Farrell B (2016). Evidence-based clinical practice
    guideline for deprescribing benzodiazepine receptor agonists. [Unpublished
  13. Insomnia in Adults and Children
    This booklet reviews the pathology, the psychological and physical treatments
    of insomnia in adults, children and teens
  14. Canadian Sleep Society
    The Canadian Sleep Society provides resources for clinicians and patients to
    treat insomnia.
  15. Top Ten Sleep Tips (patient handout)
  16. National Sleep Foundation
  17. Canadian Books on Sleep
    The Canadian Sleep Society has a list of Canadian books and workbook(s)
    on sleep
  18. Toxnet
    Toxicology Data Network
  19. Motherisk
  20. Online CBT-I & Apps
  21. CBT for Insomnia
    This website offers 5-session on-line cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
    program for insomnia. Cost ranges from $24.95 US to $49.95 US.
  22. CBT-i Coach
    CBT-i Coach provides a structured program that teaches strategies to improve
    sleep and help alleviate symptoms of insomnia.
  23. Sleepio
    An evidence-based CBT-I online and mobile app programme. Cost is $300 US
    for a 12-month subscription.
  24. SlumberPRO
    A self-help program based out of Queensland Australia that requires about 30-
    60 minutes each day. The program lasts 4-8 weeks. Cost $39 AUS.
  25. Go! To Sleep
    A 6-week CBT-I program available through Cleveland Clinic of Wellness.
    A mobile app is also available. Cost $3.99 US for app or $40 US for web.
  26. SHUTi
    A 6-week CBT-I program that has been evaluated in 2 randomized trials
    involving adults with insomnia and cancer survivors. Cost $135 US for 16 weeks
    access or $156 US for 20 weeks access.
  27. Restore CBT-I
    A 6-week CBT-I program evaluated in a randomized trial (developed by
    Canadian psychologist, Dr. Norah Vincent). Price varies from £99 to £199.
  28. Sleep Training System
    6-week on-line CBT-I program with money-back guarantee and personalized
    feedback. Cost $29.95 US.
  29. Meditation Oasis
    Relax & Rest Guided Mediation apps. Cost $2.79 US.

*If you would like to use the ISI or ESS questionnaires in your practice, please contact Mapi Research Trust for permission to use: Mapi Research Trust, Lyon, France – Internet:


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  15. Canadian Pharmacists Association. Therapeutic Choices for Minor Ailments. First Edition. 2013. Chapter 5: Insomnia, p. 33-42.
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Copyright & Disclaimer

CEP fully supports the use of the Management of Chronic Insomnia tool by providers, educators, decision-makers and others. Please read the following information prior to use of the tool to ensure appropriate permission is sought and appropriate citation is used.

Creative Commons License

Creative CommonsThe Management of Chronic Insomnia tool is a product of the Centre for Effective Practice.  Permission to use, copy and distribute this material for all non-commercial and research purposes is granted, provided that all copies, modifications, and distributions contain full reproductions of this Creative Commons License and the following Disclaimer along with appropriate citation.  Use of the Management of Chronic Insomnia tool for commercial purposes or any modifications of the tool are subject to charge and use must be negotiated with Centre for Effective Practice (Email: [email protected])

For statistical and bibliographic purposes, please notify the Centre for Effective Practice ([email protected]) of any use or reprinting of the tool.

Please use this citation when referencing the tool: Reprinted with Permission from Centre for Effective Practice (January 2017). Management of Chronic Insomnia tool. Toronto: Centre for Effective Practice.


The Management of Chronic Insomnia tool (the “Tool”) contains links to websites and other external resources (“Third Party Resources”) that are operated by and/or created by third party organizations.  These third party organizations are solely responsible for the information contained in, and the operation of (as applicable), their respective Their Party Resource(s).

This Tool was developed for licensed health care professionals in Ontario as a guide only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice.  Primary care providers and other health care professionals are required to exercise their own clinical judgment in using this Tool.

Neither the Centre for Effective Practice (“CEP”), Ontario College of Family Physicians, Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, Government of Ontario, the contributors to this Tool, nor any of their respective agents, appointees, directors, officers, employees, contractors, members or volunteers: (i) are providing medical, diagnostic or treatment services through this Tool; (ii) to the extent permitted by applicable law, accept any responsibility for the use or misuse of this Tool by any individual including, but not limited to, primary care providers, or entity, including for any loss, damage or injury (including death) arising from or in connection with the use of this Tool, in whole or in part; or (iii) give or make any representation, warranty or endorsement of any of the Third Party Resources, that are owned or operated by third parties, including any information or advice contained therein.