How medications affect sleep

Written by: fawcett



Time to read 3 min

How medications affect your sleep

We take medication with the goal of treating a particular illness or control a condition. These medications may come with sleep deprivation side-effects and cause insomnia. For example, high blood pressure medication and others like cough, colds, and flu medications, may affect sleep patterns. Medicines like antihistamines cause drowsiness even during the day. We take a look at how medication may affect sleep patterns.

Always consult with your doctor about before taking any medication or changing your routine!


Drugs that contain stimulants, or chemicals that act as stimulants, are likely to keep us up at night. Pain-killers that have caffeine, ADHD medication, anti-smoking, asthma medications, thyroid medications, decongestants, and blood pressure medications can cause insomnia.  

The potency of the medication and the dosage prescribed, are directly correlated to the severity of the sleep disorder. Every patient should consult their doctor to discuss potential side effects of medications they are taking.

Here’s a reference for the by the FDA in the USA to start learning about medications and how they may interact with others. Health Canada regulates prescription drugs and maintain the Canada Vigilance Adverse Reaction Online Database


Sleep Disruption

Other drugs may not cause complete insomnia, but they may affect our quality of sleep.

These medications may induce anxiety which can cause nightmares or repeated waking during sleep.  Beta blockers used for controlling blood pressure and cholesterol have been known to cause sleep issues.


Allergy and cold medications can also cause drowsiness. In turn, this can end up affecting normal sleep patterns. Antidepressant medication can also make a person feel sluggish and affect their ability to sleep well. Opioid pain medication, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants are other medications which may cause drowsiness.


Sleeping Pills and their Effects on Sleep Patterns

Many people take medication to induce sleep. Doctors generally only recommend sleeping pills to people who suffer from severe sleep disorders.

The negative side-effects of sleeping pills often outweigh their benefits.  Sleeping pills come in the form of sedatives or hypnotics and may be obtained over the counter at local pharmacies.

We’ll take a look at a few examples of sleeping medications relating to their category of active ingredients.

  • Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone. It is responsible for controlling the sleeping-waking cycles by helping the brain regulate regular rest and sleep times.

The body produces more melatonin when it is dark than in the daytime. Melatonin is often considered a natural sleeping pill. It’s available over the counter at health food shops and pharmacies. However, make sure you consult with your doctor before taking Melatonin.

  • Sedating Antihistamines

These types of antihistamines are sometimes helpful to people who have trouble sleeping through the night. Antihistamines are generally used to treat allergies, and some can cause drowsiness. Some people use sedating antihistamines to relieve tension, anxiety and induce sleep.

Doctors may prescribe sedating antihistamines as a short-term solution for sleep-deprived patients. When people overuse sedating antihistamines, the human body becomes accustomed to them, and their effectiveness is reduced.

  • Hypnotics

These sleeping pills are strictly available via a doctor’s prescription. Doctors often prescribe hypnotics for treatment of patients with severe sleep disorders. Examples of hypnotics include zolpidem, zaleplon, and ramelteon.

Sleeping pills can seriously affect sleep patterns and be detrimental to your health. We’re not doctors, so make sure you consult with your physician about taking any medications, and how they may interact with each other.


Alternatives like exercise or mediation may be better for your situation. Your doctor will be able to give you advice!

Trouble sleeping? Definitely consult with your doctor first. Then, we recommend a trip to Fawcett. Self serving? Well, maybe.

But if you heard what our clients have to say about our mattresses, then maybe we’re just helping people sleep better. We think so. Sure we sell mattresses, but really we purveyors of quality sleep and health. And that, makes us sleep well at night. On a budget? We recommend our Model 6. Our most luxurious “no-compromise” mattress? Check out our Model 9.


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