Not being able to fall asleep at night can be incredibly frustrating. The tossing and turning, followed by a mindless fog the next day that not even a triple shot of espresso can pull you out of. There are many reasons for insomnia, which can make it difficult to pinpoint a root cause. However, it might be surprising to learn there are some common medications that cause insomnia.
In fact, many common medications can cause insomnia, and if something you are taking is on the list – you may have found the source of your struggle.
Let’s look at a few medications that could be causing your sleepless nights.
Just a reminder before we jump in, do not stop or make changes to your medication regimen without consulting with your doctor.
Insomnia from Medication
There are a number of medications that cause or contribute to insomnia. These medications may include the prescription medication you take regularly or just an over-the-counter medication you take every now and then. However, just because some medications can cause insomnia, doesn’t mean they will for you. The person, dose, and timing all play a role in the side effects someone experiences.
What Medications Cause Insomnia
There are several medications that cause insomnia including some allergy medications, blood pressure medications, and asthma medications, to name a few. While you should never stop a medication regimen without consulting with your doctor, if you see your medication on the list it may be worth a conversation. Your doctor can provide suggestions and potential alternatives to help avoid more sleepless nights.
Here are the main categories of medications you should be aware of.
Allergy medications (e.g. nasal decongestants) may cause insomnia in some cases. Many of these products contain ingredients like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, which can cause a stimulating effect in some individuals. Pseudofed, Claritin-D, Allegra-D, and Zyrtec-D are some of the more common names that fall into this category. If you are taking one of these medications, talk with your doctor about potential alternatives for symptom relief and check out these natural remedies for seasonal allergies.
Blood Pressure Medications
It may be surprising to learn that common blood pressure medications, such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors can increase sleeplessness. For example, ACE Inhibitors such as lisinopril can cause side effects like a dry cough that make it hard to fall and stay asleep at night. Beta-blockers (e.g. bisoprolol) have also been linked to sleep disorders and insomnia.
If you are taking blood pressure medication and having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about your options. Do not stop any medication regimen without consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.
SSRI’s (i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) treat depression and may inhibit sleep. Here’s how they work. These drugs such as sertraline (Zoloft), block serotonin’s reabsorption by neurons, increasing their availability in the brain. For some individuals, this increased availability can result in insomnia. In addition, other antidepressants (e.g. NDRI’s) could also cause insomnia in some individuals.
If you are struggling with depression, there are plenty of other options without the side effect of insomnia. Talk with your doctor to determine if one of these medications could be right for you.
It is no surprise that ADHD medications, such as Adderall, commonly cause insomnia. These medications are prescribed to increase alertness, energy, and attention, which means keeping you awake is exactly what they were designed to do. To minimize potential insomnia from this class of medications, adhere to the dosing instructions closely and try to avoid taking a dose at night.
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. prednisone) prescribed to treat chronic inflammation arising from health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. As the name suggests, these medications resemble cortisol — the body’s stress hormone and as such can cause restlessness. If you suspect that these medications may be causing or contributing to your insomnia, talk with your doctor about potential alternatives.
Some asthma medications have been reported to cause insomnia. These include albuterol and theophylline which has similar stimulating effects to caffeine. Often, doctors may prescribe these medications to treat COPD as well. However, while these medications may cause trouble sleeping they are also essential for many individuals to breathe properly. Therefore, it is important to have a conversation with your doctor before stopping the use of any asthma medication.
Quitting smoking is a critical step to improving your health. It can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, in addition to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. However, some nicotine replacement options may also contribute to insomnia. For example, if you’re wearing a nicotine patch overnight and struggling to stay asleep, this could be the culprit. Try to take off the patch before bed or look into alternative options as a good night’s sleep can help reduce stress.
Can antibiotics cause insomnia?
In most cases, antibiotics do not cause insomnia. There have been cases, though, where one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, levofloxacin, can cause acute insomnia. The good thing about antibiotics, though, is that people take them only for a short period of time. If you still experience insomnia after you stop taking antibiotics, something else might be causing it. Do not stop taking antibiotics without consulting your physician.
What else could be causing insomnia?
If you aren’t taking any of these medications, there may be another reason you have insomnia. While there is usually no single answer, insomnia is a common sleep disorder and affects people from all different backgrounds for a variety of reasons.
How To Treat Insomnia Caused By Medication
Treating insomnia caused by medication often comes down to consulting with your doctor. Your doctor can provide options and offer suggestions for the best course of action moving forward. This may include prescribing a smaller dosage, switching your medication, or a variety of other options.
Sleep is critical for how we function and our overall health, so don’t wait to have a conversation. Instead, be proactive and set up an appointment if you are experiencing insomnia.