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What Drugs Cause Insomnia

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Trends In The Use Of Medications With Insomnia Side Effects And The Implications For Insomnia Among Us Adults

What about medications for insomnia?

Population Studies Center, The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany


Duy Do, Population Studies Center, The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Population Studies Center, The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany


Duy Do, Population Studies Center, The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Does My Drug Use Cause Insomnia

Most people know that excessive drug use can have negative impacts on a persons life. It can cause financial, interpersonal, legal, emotional and many other problems. But few people know that drug use can sometimes cause insomnia.

Prescription drugs that can cause insomnia include those that are used to treat the following disorders:

  • Epilepsy
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Metabolic Disorders

Taking stimulants can also cause insomnia. These drugs increase alertness and energy, making it difficult to sleep. Individuals who overuse stimulants experience long periods of insomnia that can have a significant impact on mental health. Methamphetamine, cocaine, crack and ecstasy are all illegal stimulants that cause insomnia by affecting the levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. A lack of sleep is a common complaint for drug users. In addition, individuals who are experiencing detox may also sometimes suffer from insomnia while their body phases out the withdrawal period.

Getting help for drug misuse itself is the best method for dealing with drug related insomnia. Self-medicating by taking other drugs to get sleep can lead to serious medical problems and is only masking the problem at hand.

If you have questions about overcoming a drug problem and insomnia, call Saint Jude Retreats today to get help. 1-888-424-2626

What Are The Potential Risks Or Complications Of Prescription Sleeping Pills

Some prescription sleep medicines may bring on parasomnia. This disruptive sleep disorder can cause dangerous behaviors while youre still mostly asleep. People who take Z-drugs, in particular, may sleepwalk or eat, take medications, talk or even drive, all while unaware that theyre doing these things. You may appear to be awake, but your brain is not fully alert. Most people dont remember doing these things after they wake up.

Benzodiazepines can be addictive and lead to substance abuse. To lower this risk, healthcare providers only prescribe these sleeping pills for short-term use. Youre more likely to get a prescription for Z-drugs instead.

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What Can I Do To Improve My Sleep

  • Create a sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Keep a record of your sleep patterns, and any sleeping problems you have. Bring the record to follow-up visits with healthcare providers.
  • Do not take naps. Naps could make it hard for you to fall asleep at bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. Turn on white noise, such as a fan, to help you relax. Do not use your bed for any activity that will keep you awake. Do not read, exercise, eat, or watch TV in your bedroom.
  • Get up if you do not fall asleep within 20 minutes. Move to another room and do something relaxing until you become sleepy.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and food to earlier in the day. Only drink caffeine in the morning. Do not drink alcohol within 6 hours of bedtime. Do not eat a heavy meal right before you go to bed.
  • Exercise regularly. Daily exercise may help you sleep better. Do not exercise within 4 hours of bedtime.

Are Sleeping Pills Safe For Children

Review Examines the Effectiveness of Antidepressants for ...

Some parents give over-the-counter antihistamine medications to children to help them sleep. These medicines arent approved for sleep purposes. Theres a risk of overdosing a child.

Dont give a child supplements like melatonin. Theres no research on their safety in children.

Currently, there are no prescription sleep medicines available for children. Changing a childs sleep behaviors is often the best way to improve sleep.

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What Are Orexin Receptor Antagonists

This is a newer class of medications to treat insomnia that also does not fall into the benzodiazepine category. Currently, the only US Food and Drug Administration -approved medication in this category is uvorexant .

How does the orexin receptor antagonist drug work?

The drug works by decreasing activity in the wake center of the brain and therefore promoting sleep. This particular type of insomnia medication works on orexin receptors in the lateral hypothalamus in the brain. It acts by decreasing activity in the wake centers of the brain and helping patients transition to sleep. This is in contrast to traditional insomnia medications, which attempt to increase activity in the sleep centers of the brain. The mechanism action of suvorexant is completely unrelated to both the benzodiazepine and non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic drugs.

Who should not use these medications?

People with the following conditions should not use orexin receptor antagonists:

  • Allergy to orexin antagonists or components of the drug
  • A history of narcolepsy or sudden falling asleep during the day
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe liverimpairment

Uses: Take the prescribed dose 30 minutes before bedtime.

Drug or food interactions: Other drugs that depress the brain’s functioning, such as alcohol or barbiturates, may increase the likelihood of abnormal behaviors during sleep, drowsiness, and cause an increased risk of side effects.

How do antidepressant drugs work?

Who should not use these medications?

What You Can Do About It

There are a number of things you can try to help yourself get a good night’s sleep if you have insomnia.

These include:

  • setting regular times for going to bed and waking up
  • relaxing before bed time try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
  • using thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
  • avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
  • not watching TV or using phones, tablets or computers shortly before going to bed
  • not napping during the day
  • writing a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before going to bed to help you forget about them until the morning

Some people find over-the-counter sleeping tablets helpful, but they don’t address the underlying problem and can have troublesome side effects.

Read more self-help tips for insomnia

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What Do I Do If My Medication Negatively Impacts My Sleep

Theres a lot you can do to sleep better if your medications are sabotaging your sleep. Here are a few of my recommendations.

Before giving any of these a try though, please consult your doctor first. Even if theyre affecting your sleep, its important to continue taking your medications as prescribed until you can make alternate arrangements with your doctor.

Tips For Better Sleep

When to Treat Insomnia With Prescription Medication

There are also some strategies you can take on your own to promote better sleep. Here are a few you can try, starting today:

  • Establish a bedtime routine: Turn off bright screens and any sources of blue light , keep your room dim or dark, and engage in a calming activity like a bath, shower, or meditation.

  • Avoid physical activity several hours before bedtime: Getting your heart rate up throughout the day is a great way to stay healthy and promote more sound sleep. But if you exercise too close to bedtime, your body may not have enough time to settle, which can cause trouble falling asleep.

  • Avoid caffeine late in the day: Save your coffee and tea breaks for the morning and early afternoon. Caffeine too late in the evening can disrupt your sleep. If you enjoy warm tea to relax before bed, try a caffeine-free option like chamomile or lavender.

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Sleeping Pills Can Have Serious Or Even Deadly Side Effects

All sedative-hypnotic drugs have special risks for older adults. Seniors are likely to be more sensitive to the drugs effects than younger adults.

And these drugs may stay in their bodies longer.

The drugs can cause confusion and memory problems that:

  • More than double the risk of falls and hip fractures. These are common causes of hospitalization and death in older people.
  • Increase the risk of car accidents.

What Are Pineal Gland Hormones

Pineal gland hormones include

How pineal gland hormones work

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland during the dark hours of the day-night cycle . Melatonin levels in the body are low during daylight hours. The pineal gland responds to darkness by increasing melatonin levels in the body. This process is thought to be integral to maintaining circadian rhythm. Ramelteon is a prescription drug that stimulates melatonin receptors. It promotes the onset of sleep and helps normalize circadian rhythm disorders. It is approved by the US FDA for insomnia characterized by difficulty falling asleep.

Who should not use these medications?

  • Individuals who are allergic to melatonin products or ramelteon
  • Individuals with severe liver impairment

Uses: Swallow prescribed dose 30 minutes before bedtime on an empty stomach.

Drug or food interactions: Drugs that inhibit metabolism of melatonin and ramelteon, such as fluvoxamine , may increase the risk for toxicity. Rifampin increases the metabolism of ramelteon, therefore decreasing its effectiveness. Melatonin has been reported to interfere with warfarin .

Side effects:

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Ace Inhibitors And Arbs

ACE Inhibitors, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, are used to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and other vascular disorders. It helps blood vessels relax by preventing the body from producing angiotensin II, a hormone that causes the narrowing of blood vessels and rise in blood pressure.

They cause insomnia by boosting the body’s levels of bradykinin. This peptide enlarges blood vessels and is thought to be the cause of the dry hacking cough that about a third of ACE Inhibitor patients report. It is around the clock and keeps these patients awake. ACE Inhibitors can also cause a potassium build up which can lead to diarrhea and leg cramps, which disrupt sleep.

ARBs are used to treat coronary artery disease or heart failure in patients who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitors due to diabetes or kidney disease. They prevent angiotensin II from exerting it’s vessel-constricting effects/

They cause insomnia by leading to potassium overload and leading to the same aforementioned effects.

Nasal Decongestants Or Oral Decongestants

My PPT_Drug treatment of Insomnia

Decongestants can come in handy when youre suffering from a stuffy nose. They can be taken as a nasal spray, like , or as an oral decongestant, like . But one downside is that decongestants can cause insomnia.

If youre using a decongestant, its probably just for a short period of time, so you may decide to push through the nighttime annoyance until you dont need it anymore. You could also consider an alternative, drug-free option like a saline nasal spray or an antihistamine nasal spray like .

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When To Seek Further Help

If youve made adjustments to your dosage, schedule, or lifestyle and youre still having trouble sleeping, then insomnia may not be your only worry. Its possible you may have an additional sleep disorder like Obstructive Sleep Apnea .

Its important to get in touch with your doctor or a sleep expert to see what the problem is, and get started with appropriate treatment. If you need help finding accredited sleep specialists or sleep centers near you, I recommend using this tool by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Your overall health and your sleep health go hand in hand taking care of one helps take care of the other. A lot of prescription drugs can cause insomnia or contribute to sleep disorders, but they dont have to. If youre worried that your medication makes it difficult for you to get a good nights sleep, relief can be a single call to your doctor away.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, FAASM

The Sleep Doctor

Treatment Options For Insomnia

KALYANAKRISHNAN RAMAKRISHNAN, MD, and DEWEY C. SCHEID, MD, MPH, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Am Fam Physician. 2007 Aug 15 76:517-526.

Patient information: See related handout on insomnia, written by the authors of this article.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines insomnia as unsatisfactory sleep that impacts daytime functioning.1 More than one third of adults report some degree of insomnia within any given year, and 2 to 6 percent use medications to aid sleep.2 Insomnia is associated with increased morbidity and mortality caused by cardiovascular disease and psychiatric disorders and has other major public health and social consequences, such as accidents and absenteeism.3 Risk factors for chronic insomnia include increasing age, female sex, psychiatric illness, medical comorbidities, impaired social relationships, lower socioeconomic status, separation from a spouse or partner, and unemployment.4


Exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, and relaxation therapy are recommended as effective, nonpharmacologic treatments for chronic insomnia.

A = consistent, good-quality patient-oriented evidence B = inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence C = consensus, disease-oriented evidence, usual practice, expert opinion, or case series. For information about the SORT evidence rating system, see page 483 or .

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The Benefits Might Be Smaller And The Risks Greater Than You Expect

Sleeplessness is complicatedbut that hasnt stopped millions of Americans from craving a simple chemical solution.

In a July 2018 Consumer Reports survey of 1,767 U.S. adults, nearly one-third of people who complained of sleep problems at least once per week said they had used an over-the-counter or prescription sleep drug in the previous year.

But many of those people dont get the restful nights sleep they seek. Only about a third of people who took sleep medicationseither OTC or prescriptionreported very good or excellent sleep on those nights.

And they often dont wake refreshed: Nearly 6 out of 10 people taking sleep medications reported side effects such as feeling drowsy, confused, or forgetful the next day. Three percent admitted to dozing off while driving.

Among the most common reasons Americans gave for taking a sleep drug is that they thought it would work better than other approaches.

But drugs arent the cure-all many people expect.

In terms of improvement of total sleep time, the benefits of sleep medications are pretty modest, says Michael Sateia, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Plus, some of the most commonly used drugs, notably OTC sleeping pills, should never be used long-term, and have little published research backing up even their short-term use, Sateia says.

And all sleep medicationsincluding OTC productshave important and often underappreciated risks.

What Are The Different Ways That Insomnia May Be Treated

Sleep Tips for Insomnia (Insomnia Treatment Without Medication)

Caregivers will treat any health problems or mental health conditions that may be causing the insomnia first. Caregivers may also suggest that you make changes in your sleeping habits and surroundings. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine for a short time or suggest that you get special sleep therapy.

  • Sleep Therapy: Your doctor may also suggest that you see a specially trained caregiver for sleep or relaxation therapy.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy: Caregivers will teach you how to change your beliefs about sleep that may be causing your insomnia, or making it worse.
  • Sleep restriction and sleep consolidation therapy: At first, this therapy limits your sleep time so that when you do sleep, it is a more restful sleep. The time that you wake up in the morning stays the same. Your sleep time is then increased each night, until you reach a normal amount of sleep. Your caregiver may recommend that you do not take naps so that you can sleep better at night.

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Historical Note And Terminology

Sleep disorders, particularly insomnia, and the use of sleep-inducing drugs have been well known throughout medical history. Similarly, sleep disturbances induced by ill-timed use of beverages such as alcohol and coffee, as well as by the desired or undesired effects of recreational drugs, are common knowledge.

In contrast to the therapy of sleep disorders, little attention was paid to the adverse effects of therapeutic drugs on sleep until the introduction of barbiturates as hypnotics. The long-term use of hypnotics as a cause of drug-induced insomnia was recognized in 1970s. Reports of sleep disturbances associated with other therapeutic drugs also started to appear in the 1970s and 1980s. Although levodopa was introduced in the 1960s, reports of levodopa-induced sleep disruptions did not appear until several years later .

What Should You Do If Your Medications Are Causing Insomnia

Sleep is important to your health, so insomnia that doesnt go away isnt something to overlook.

If you think your medications are causing insomnia, you should talk to your healthcare provider about it. They may:

  • Recommend an alternative medication

  • Recommend a supplement like melatonin to help promote sleep

  • Prescribe a stronger medication to help you sleep

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What Medicines Cause Insomnia

A lot of different prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause poor sleep. Among them include:

  • Medications that contain stimulants, including some allergy medications
  • Prescription sleeping pills and other sleep drugs
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, or SSRI medications, including antidepressants
  • Medications that treat high blood pressure, including beta-blockers
  • Dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinsons Disease
  • Medications for Restless Legs Syndrome, including dopamine agonists

This is not an exhaustive list of all the medications that can cause insomnia if youre concerned about how your medications may be impacting your sleep, be sure to talk to your doctor to see what your options are.

Insomnia And Mental Health Disorders


Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder frequently give rise to serious sleeping problems. It is estimated that 40% of people with insomnia have a mental health disorder.

These conditions can incite pervasive negative thoughts and mental hyperarousal that disturbs sleep. In addition, studies indicate that insomnia can exacerbate mood and anxiety disorders, making symptoms worse and even increasing the risk of suicide in people with depression.

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