How Medications Can Affect Sleep

Home >> Sleep Topics >> How Medications Can Affect Sleep
Date:
Friday, August 10, 2018

If you’ve noticed that your sleep habits have changed, without any major shifts to your lifestyle, you may want to look into the medications you’re taking. Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs can impact sleep: Some cause insomnia , while others disrupt sleep quality or trigger daytime drowsiness.  Learn which medications to look out for if you’re struggling with sleep. 

Medications That Cause Insomnia 

Drugs that treat heart problems and blood pressure can cause sleeplessness, as can certain antidepressants, thyroid medications, decongestants, and some herbal medications.  Other drugs contain chemicals that act as stimulants, which can also keep you up at night. These include ADHD medications,  asthma medications,  anti-smoking medications,  and some pain killers that contain caffeine.  

Medications That Disrupt Sleep

Some drugs don’t interfere with falling asleep, but can still affect sleep quality. For instance, beta-blockers used for high blood pressure  and some cholesterol-lowering drugs may cause nightmares and nighttime waking.  Certain cough medications can also lower sleep quality by suppressing REM sleep.  

Medications That Make You Drowsy

On the flip side, certain drugs lead to daytime drowsiness, which can also disrupt your sleep patterns. For instance, many cold and allergy medicines cause sleepiness during the day.  Some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can make you feel sluggish.  Other drowsiness-related drugs include opioid pain medication,  muscle relaxants,  beta-blockers for blood pressure,  and anticonvulsants used to treat seizures.  

How to Improve Sleep

The challenge with medication is that each person responds differently to its sleep-related side effects.  If you suspect your prescriptions are impacting your sleep, speak with your doctor, who will be able to suggest a solution that works best for you. Potential options include switching medications, reducing dosage, or seeking alternative treatments. Following healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising, eating a wholesome diet, and managing stress can also help reduce sleep-related side effects.   

Learn about how sleep impacts your health
Powered by National Sleep Foundation