The purpose of this research was to examine differences in levels of compensatory (sleep hygiene) sleep practices between older insomniacs and older 'normal sleepers'. Two assumptions were tested. First, that compensatory sleep practices differentiate insomniacs from normal sleepers and second, that these practices relate to the long-term maintenance of chronic insomnia. The participants were 414 older adults who responded to an advertisement in a periodical targeted at older people. They were given a questionnaire to determine their insomnia status, use of compensatory practices and levels of daytime sleepiness. A series of chi-square analyses, t-tests and regression analyses showed both assumptions to be predominantly false. There were however relationships between pre-sleep cognitive activity, irregular sleep patterns, use of medication, and a noisy bedroom environment with insomnia classification. In addition, caffeine use after 2pm was associated with a longer duration of insomnia. The results are discussed in relation to sleep medicine education, interventions for older people in primary care settings, and recent models of insomnia.