Use of Sleep Aids in Insomnia: The Role of Time Monitoring Behavior

Spencer C. Dawson, Barry Krakow, Patricia L. Haynes, Darlynn M. Rojo-Wissar, Natalia D. McIver, Victor A. Ulibarri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription sleep medications are frequently used as treatments for chronic insomnia, despite risks and limited long-term efficacy. Investigating mechanisms underlying this predilection for pharmacotherapy may uncover strategies to decrease reliance on sleep aids. The objective of this study was to determine how time monitoring behavior (TMB; clock-watching) and associated frustration may interact with insomnia symptoms to drive the use of sleep aids. Methods: Patients (N = 4,886) presenting for care at a communitybased, private sleep medical center between May 2003 and October 2013 completed the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and Time Monitoring Behavior-10 (TMB-10) and reported their frequency of sleep medication use (OTC and prescription, separately). Mediation analyses examined how clock-watching and related frustration could be associated with insomnia symptoms and medication use. Results: The relationship between TMB and sleep medication use was significantly explained by ISI (P < .05), in that TMB (especially related frustration) appears to aggravate insomnia, which in turn leads to sleep aid use. Similarly, but to a lesser extent, the relationship between ISI and sleep medication use was explained by TMB, in that ISI may lead to increased TMB, which may in turn lead to sleep aid use. Conclusions: TMB and the associated frustration it engenders may perpetuate a negative cycle of insomnia and sleep aid use. Future longitudinal and interventional research is necessary to examine the developmental course of these clinical symptoms and behaviors and to test whether decreasing frustration by limiting TMB reduces the proclivity for pharmacotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22m03344
JournalThe primary care companion for CNS disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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