This was a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTI) as a monotherapy and active control treatments in persons with insomnia who have no major medical conditions or psychiatric comorbidities. PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Cochrane Library databases, WanFang and CNKI were systematically and independently searched. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) and risk ratio (RR) with their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Nine RCTs with 12 treatment arms comparing CBTI (n = 479) and active control (n = 510) groups were analyzed. Compared to the active control group, the CBTI group showed significantly less improvement in insomnia at post-CBTI assessment in terms of sleep efficiency (SMD: 0.32, 95% CI: 0.00 to 0.63), sleep latency (SMD: -0.33, 95% CI: -0.56 to -0.09), wake after sleep onset (SMD: -0.27, 95% CI: -0.52 to -0.01), the total scores of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (SMD: -0.52, 95% CI: -0.86 to -0.19), the Insomnia Symptom Index (SMD: -0.68, 95% CI: -1.01 to -0.36), the Dysfunctional Attitudes and Beliefs About Sleep Scale (SMD: -0.76, 95% CI: -1.25 to -0.27), and the Athens Insomnia Scale (SMD: -0.66, 95% CI: -1.07 to -0.24). In this meta-analysis, CBTI monotherapy showed no advantage in improving insomnia compared with other standard treatments.