12 Tips for Better Sleep: Part 6 – Avoid Medicines that Disrupt Sleep
I love watching medication commercials on TV. They always end with a crazy long list of side effects—constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, blue urine, dry mouth, headache, Kanye West spectrum disorder, insomnia, etc. And these aren’t even the most serious side effects I’ve heard.
So, when you go to the doctor and they prescribe you a new medication, it’s important to pay attention to all the side effects. Who knows, you could be fixing one problem while causing another.
If you already sleep on a Pillow Cube and you’re still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, you may want to take a quick look in your medicine cabinet. Here are some common medications that may disrupt your sleep.
14 Medications that Can Ruin Your Sleep
Alpha-blockers are often prescribed for high blood pressure, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and Raynaud’s disease.
Side Effects: These types of medications have been shown to reduce REM sleep, which is the sleep stage when you have the most vivid dreams. REM sleep is also associated with cognitive functions, like memory, learning, and creativity.
Beta-clockers are prescribed to treat hypertension and arrhythmias.
Side Effects: They may cause night awakenings and nightmares.
Corticosteroids are used to treat inflammation of blood vessels and muscles, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, gout, and allergic reactions.
Side Effects: They can increase sleep onset latency (i.e. it increases the time it takes you to fall asleep).
- SSRI Antidepressants
SSRIs (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) are used to treat moderate to severe depression.
Side Effects: These types of antidepressants can cause agitation and insomnia.
- ACE Inhibitors
ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and other conditions.
Side Effects: They can cause a hacking, dry cough that can be severe enough to keep you from sleeping. They can also cause diarrhea, leg cramps, and achy joints, bones, and muscles which can disturb sleep.
- Angiotensin II-receptor blockers (ARBs)
ARBs treat coronary artery disease or heart failure for people who can’t tolerate ACE inhibitors.
Side Effects: ARBs can cause potassium overload, which can lead to leg cramps and achy joints, bones, and muscles. These side effects can prevent and/or disturb sleep.
- Cholinesterase Inhibitors
These types of medications are used to treat memory loss and mental changes due to Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
Side Effects: Cholinesterase inhibitors can cause insomnia and abnormal dreams.
- Second-generation (nonsedating) H1 antagonists
The easier term: antihistamines. They are used to treat allergic reaction symptoms, like itching, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and hives.
Side Effects: They can cause anxiety and insomnia.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
These are dietary supplements used to relieve joint pain, improve joint function, and decrease inflammation.
Side Effects: They can cause headaches and insomnia.
Statins treat high cholesterol.
Side Effects: They can cause muscle pain, which can make it harder for people to fall asleep.
Stimulants are often used to treat ADHD.
Side Effects: Based on the name, it’s not surprising that they can cause insomnia.
This medication is similar to caffeine and is used to treat asthma.
Side Effects: Theophylline can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Thyroid Hormone Replacement
Thyroid hormone replacements, like Synthroid and Levothyroxine, are used to treat hypothyroidism.
Side Effects: If your dose is not regulated, you can experience tremors, heart palpitations, and trouble sleeping.
Diuretics, also called water pills, are used to treat high blood pressure.
Side Effects: Diuretics increase the production of urine, which may force you to wake up during the night to go to the bathroom.
Based on this list of medications, I’m pretty sure everything cause insomnia. Which is why it’s so important to talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking. While some side effects may be unavoidable, you may be able to prevent others by lowering your dose or taking your medication in the morning instead of at night.
Getting enough sleep is super important. Treating medical conditions is super important. And sometimes doing both effectively can be tricky. So, do your research and find a doctor you trust so you can keep your sleep and medical conditions in check.
We’re half way through our “12 Tips for Better Sleep” series! Check out our past tips:
Part 1—Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
Part 2—Exercise at the Right Time
Part 3—Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
Part 4—Avoid Drinking AlcoholPart 5—Avoid Big Meals and Drinks Before Bed