Common Prescription Medications that Cause Insomnia

Posted by Darian Dozier on Dec 8, 2021 8:00:00 AM

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Do you find it difficult to sleep, but unsure why? It could have something to do with your prescription medications. If you take medication for high blood pressure, arrhythmias, mental health disorders, and other health problems, your medication could be causing your insomnia. 

1. Alpha or Beta Blockers 

Alpha and Beta-blockers are used to treat high blood pressure, raynaud's, arrhythmias and other conditions that may require the dampening of your adrenaline.

Alpha blockers help by keeping small blood vessels open and by keeping norepinephrine from tightening muscles in the walls of small arteries and veins. This way, they improve blood flow and decrease lower blood pressure. They cause insomnia by decreasing REM sleep and inducing daytime sleepiness. 

Beta blockers slow down the heart rate and lower blood pressure by blocking the effect hormone adrenaline. They are used to treat anginas, migraines, tremors, and certain types of glaucoma. They have been linked to night time awakenings and nightmares due to inhibition of melatonin.


2. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids treat inflammation of blood vessels and muscles, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren's Syndrome and allergic reactions. Some examples include cortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisone, and triamcinolone. They cause insomnia by overstimulating the fight-or-flight response controlled by the adrenal glands. Too much stress can keep your body's control systems from accurately inducing sleep.  

3. SSRI Antidepressants

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat symptoms of moderate to severe depression. They block the reabsorption or reuptake of the neurotransmitter Serotonin. This helps to prolong feelings of joy and relieve feelings of depression.

It's unknown how SSRIs work, so it is also unknown how SSRIs interfere with sleep. The can cause insomnia in about 10-20% of people who take them. Even though SSRIs relieve feelings of depression, about 81% of participants in the STAR*D trial in Dallas still struggled with feelings of insomnia.  

4. 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.   

5. Glucosamine and chondroitin

These are dietary supplements that are used to relieve joint pain and improve joint function and inflammation. Many arthritis supplements have both of these chemicals. 

It is unclear how they cause insomnia, but research has identified some gastrointestinal side effects. Nausea and diarrhea, as well as headaches and insomnia are common side effects that could be the cause of disrupted sleep.                 

6. Statins 

Statins are used to treat high cholesterol, and some of the most common drugs are atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor). 

They cause insomnia due to the muscle pain that these statins cause. This muscle pain can keep individuals who take these medications up at night. This pain can even be so bad that it is immobilizing. 


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Topics: Insomnia, medication

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