Insomnia can result in impaired daytime functioning and reduced quality of life. Effective treatment is important to reduce suffering. Drug treatment with benzodiazepines and Z-drugs is effective for the management of short-term insomnia but the duration of treatment should be kept to a minimum because of their associated adverse effects. Treatment should be withdrawn gradually to reduce risks of rebound anxiety, other distressing symptoms, confusion and convulsions. Melatonin is an alternative hypnotic for the short-term management of insomnia in individuals aged >55 years.