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© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Prisoners have many potential risk factors for insomnia including mental ill health and substance misuse. However, literature on prevalence, associated factors and management of insomnia in prison has yet to be systematically examined in this group. The paper objective was to synthesise and appraise the research that examines insomnia in a prison environment. An integrative literature review using thematic analysis was conducted to critically reflect on the current evidence base and outline a prospective research agenda. From the original 384 sourced papers, 33 met the inclusion criteria and were subsequently included for review. Definitions of insomnia and assessment tools used in studies varied considerably making the overall validity of findings uncertain. Notably, no studies used a recommended measure to assess insomnia disorder (ID). Thematic analysis yielded five themes: 1) the varied prevalence of insomnia; 2) the comorbidity of insomnia, psychiatric disorder and substance misuse; 3) the negative influence of prison-related situational and environmental factors on insomnia; 4) the role of hypnotic medication, and, 5) preliminary indications that non-pharmacological treatment can improve sleep. The methodological heterogeneity and variable quality across studies in the assessment of insomnia means conclusive data on prevalence, associated factors and management is lacking. Nonetheless, sleep problems are common and impairing in prison, are linked to comorbid conditions and negatively influenced by the prison environment, which routinely provides limited scope for effective management. Future research in prison populations is needed to reliably identify insomnia prevalence and determine how it can be managed effectively.

Original publication




Journal article


Sleep Medicine Reviews

Publication Date





13 - 27