Though medication and prescription drugs help treat health conditions, they can produce negative side effects, including disturbances in sleep. Even sleeping pills, which are designed to help people sleep better, can have a negative impact on restful sleep.
Medicine and Sleep
The relationship between medicine and sleep is often difficult to pin down. People taking medications may attribute sleep issues to their ailment, not the cure. However, medications and sleep problems often go hand-in-hand. A short list of medications that can adversely affect sleep includes:
- Sleeping pills
- Weight loss medications and diet pills.
Antidepressants and Sleep
Antidepressants and sleep have a complex relationship. While some antidepressants encourage better sleep, others have been linked to sleep problems. For example, some antidepressants have been linked to REM sleep behavior disorder, which causes people to physically act out their dreams, according to an article published in the “Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine” (Parish, 2007).
Be sure to discuss the relationship between antidepressants and sleep with a physician prior to treatment, and report any suspected connections between antidepressants and sleep problems you are experiencing.
Antihistamine Side Effects and Decongestants
Antihistamines and decongestants help relieve allergy symptoms and nasal congestion. Antihistamine side effects include drowsiness, while decongestants may cause alertness and excitability.
Taking an antihistamine during the day can cause sleepiness that interferes with nighttime sleep. Decongestants taken too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep. Before talking an over-the-counter medication, be sure to consider possible decongestant or antihistamine side effects and the relationship between over-the-counter drugs and sleep.
Weight Loss Drugs and Sleep
Weight loss medication often contains some type of diuretic and/or stimulant (such as caffeine) to rev the body up and increase metabolism. Diuretics can cause people to awaken during the night to urinate, while stimulants can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Insomnia Medications and Sleep
Ironically, some sleep medications may exacerbate the exact problem they were designed to help. Some people who are prescribed sleep aids may experience “rebound insomnia” after they stop taking the drug. Certain sleep medications, such as benzodiazepines, may result in reduced quality sleep, while newer drugs can have unusual sleep-related side effects, such as sleep driving or sleep eating. Drug tolerance and drug dependence may also be issues with sleep medications. Be sure to discuss sleep medicine and sleep-related side effects with a doctor before using these drugs.
Mind Publications. (2007). Insomnia-sleeping problems. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from: http://www.mindpub.com/altern05.htm.
Nissl, J. (2008). Medication or other drug use and sleep problems. Retrieved September 21, 2010, from http://www.ghc.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=aa2134