BACKGROUND: Insomnia is the most commonly occurring sleep disorder: recent reports estimate that 25-30% of adults in the general population occasional instances of experience insomnia, while 10% suffer from disturbances severe enough to meet diagnostic criteria for insomnia. Little is known about the mechanisms, causes, clinical course, and consequences of this condition. Over 30 studies have been published on the matter but only a small proportion has found differences in the working memory of individuals with vs. without insomnia. OBJECTIVE: To summarize evidence regarding the differences in working memory performance between insomniac vs. normal adult sleepers. METHODS: The survey was conducted using an advanced search in the ISI Web of Science and MEDLINE/PubMed with the terms "sleep", "insomnia" and "working memory" as major descriptors; these were crossed with the following keywords: "psychological tests", "neuropsychology" and "performance". RESULTS: A total of 112 articles were identified in the search conducted in PubMed and Web of Science. After the screening, 102 articles unrelated to the proposed theme were excluded. Thus, 10 articles were analyzed by the eligibility and exclusion criteria, and included in this systematic review. CONCLUSION: The information resulting from the analysis of the reviewed articles suggests that mild, but not definitive deficits in cognitive performance might be masked by insignificant disparities in studies comparing insomniac individuals with normal sleepers. This shortcoming can be circumvented by larger and better-characterized samples, together with optimized methodological control of factors which might otherwise result in confounding variations among participants.