Harvard Women's Health Watch

Medications that can affect sleep

A number of drugs disrupt sleep, while others can cause daytime drowsiness. Your clinician may be able to suggest alternatives.

Medication

Used to treat

Examples

Possible effects on sleep/daytime function

Anti-arrhythmics

Heart rhythm problems

procainamide (Procanbid), quinidine (Cardioquin), disopyramide (Norpace)

Nighttime sleep difficulties, daytime fatigue

Beta blockers

High blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, angina

atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), propranolol (Inderal)

Insomnia, nighttime awakenings, nightmares

Clonidine

High blood pressure; sometimes prescribed off-label for alcohol withdrawal or smoking cessation

clonidine (Catapres)

Daytime drowsiness and fatigue, disrupted REM sleep; less commonly, restlessness, early morning awakening, nightmares

Corticosteroids

Inflammation, asthma

prednisone (Sterapred, others)

Daytime jitters, insomnia

Diuretics

High blood pressure

chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Hygroton), hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix, HydroDIURIL, others)

Increased nighttime urination, painful calf cramps during sleep

Medications containing alcohol

Cough, cold, and flu

Coricidin HBP, Nyquil Cough, Theraflu Warming Relief

Suppressed REM sleep, disrupted nighttime sleep

Medications containing caffeine

Decreased alertness

NoDoz, Vivarin, Caffedrine

Wakefulness that may last up to six to seven hours

Headaches and other pain

Anacin, Excedrin, Midol

Nicotine replacement products

Smoking

nicotine patches (Nicoderm), gum (Nicorette), nasal spray or inhalers (Nicotrol), and lozenges (Commit)

Insomnia, disturbing dreams

Sedating antihistamines*

Cold and allergy symptoms

diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

Drowsiness

Motion sickness

dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Depression, anxiety

fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil)

Decreased REM sleep, daytime fatigue

Sympathomimetic stimulants

Attention deficit disorder

dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), methamphetamine (Desoxyn), methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Difficulty falling asleep, decreased REM and non-REM deep sleep

Theophylline

Asthma

theophylline (Slo-bid, Theo-Dur, others)

Wakefulness similar to that caused by caffeine

Thyroid hormone

Hypothyroidism

levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others)

Sleeping difficulties (at higher doses)

*These medications are also found in over-the-counter sleep aids.

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