Sleep Apnoea Forum Bringing Help + Support to the Patient

A number of drugs disrupt sleep, while others can cause daytime drowsiness. Your clinician may be able to suggest alternatives.


Used to treat


Possible effects on sleep/daytime function


Heart rhythm problems

procainamide (Procanbid), quinidine (Cardioquin), disopyramide (Norpace)

Nighttime sleep difficulties, daytime fatigue

Beta blockers

High blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, angina

atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), propranolol (Inderal)

Insomnia, nighttime awakenings, nightmares


High blood pressure; sometimes prescribed off-label for alcohol withdrawal or smoking cessation

clonidine (Catapres)

Daytime drowsiness and fatigue, disrupted REM sleep; less commonly, restlessness, early morning awakening, nightmares


Inflammation, asthma

prednisone (Sterapred, others)

Daytime jitters, insomnia


High blood pressure

chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Hygroton), hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix, HydroDIURIL, others)

Increased nighttime urination, painful calf cramps during sleep

Medications containing alcohol

Cough, cold, and flu

Coricidin HBP, Nyquil Cough, Theraflu Warming Relief

Suppressed REM sleep, disrupted nighttime sleep

Medications containing caffeine

Decreased alertness

NoDoz, Vivarin, Caffedrine

Wakefulness that may last up to six to seven hours

Headaches and other pain

Anacin, Excedrin, Midol

Nicotine replacement products


nicotine patches (Nicoderm), gum (Nicorette), nasal spray or inhalers (Nicotrol), and lozenges (Commit)

Insomnia, disturbing dreams

Sedating antihistamines*

Cold and allergy symptoms

diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)


Motion sickness

dimenhydrinate (Dramamine)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Depression, anxiety

fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil)

Decreased REM sleep, daytime fatigue

Sympathomimetic stimulants

Attention deficit disorder

dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), methamphetamine (Desoxyn), methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Difficulty falling asleep, decreased REM and non-REM deep sleep



theophylline (Slo-bid, Theo-Dur, others)

Wakefulness similar to that caused by caffeine

Thyroid hormone


levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others)

Sleeping difficulties (at higher doses)

*These medications are also found in over-the-counter sleep aids.

Taken from Harvard Medical School http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Wat...

Drug-Induced Sleep Disorders / Sleep Disturbances

There is a multitude of drugs the side effects of which can affect sleep by stimulating or aggravating sleep disorders. Drugs may suppress rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, affect slow-wave sleep (SWS), or cause insomnia, parasomnias, nightmares, excessive sleep, difficulty falling asleep, early-morning awakening, and periodic awakenings. These common sleep disorders and disturbances may be symptoms of, or result in secondary conditions that can prove severely consequential to one's health.

Many drugs suppress REM sleep. Withdrawal of these drugs often result in REM rebound nightmares, which will be discussed further. While the drugs are being taken, the severity of sleep apnea, a temporary suspension of breathing occurring repeatedly during sleep, may be underestimated. Alcohol, anesthetics, and opioid analgesics tend to worsen sleep apnea while thyroxine, progesterone, nicotine, theophylline, and antidepressants have been known to improve nighttime breathing patterns.

Suppression of REM sleep is frequently seen with opioid analgesics, long-term antihypertensives, beta-blockers like pindolol and propranolol, stimulants of alpha adrenoreceptors like guanfacine  and clonidine, serotonin stimulators like ketanserin and ritanserin, and methyldopa (Aldomet). In fact, most antidepressants suppress REM sleep, and may also cause insomnia and increase the likelihood of experiencing some parasomnias.

But while most antidepressant drugs cause sleep disturbances, some drugs such as the now rarely used antihypertensive drug reserpine can actually cause depression. There is a complex relationship between sleep and depression. Symptoms of depression often include sleep disturbances such as periodic awakenings, difficulty falling asleep, and early-morning awakening.

Common sleep abnormalities observed in those with depression include the early onset of the first REM period (although not as early as that in narcolepsy, which is characterized by brief attacks of deep sleep, sometimes with cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations), increased duration of REM sleep, and a reversal of the occurrence of slow wave sleep (SWS) between the first and second periods of sleep.

SWS suppression, such as seen with use of corticosteroids, leaves a patient “unrested” after sleeping, and may induce insomnia. SWS suppression may be counteracted with medications such as zopiclone. Sleepwalking, a parasomniac behavior to be discussed further, usually occurs during SWS, and may be induced by drugs that increase this state of sleep.

Insomnia may be induced by both REM sleep and SWS suppression. It may be caused by drugs with central stimulant effects like methoxyphenamine and ephedrine, appetite-suppressing drugs, and possibly sympathomimetic vasodilators like phenylpropanolamine and pseudoephedrine, which is commonly included in over-the-counter cold medications.

Parasomnias are sleep behaviors that include sleepwalking, sleep talking, sleep starts, sleep terrors, REM behavior disorders, teeth grinding, bedwetting, and “confusional awakenings”. Tricyclic antidepressants and triazolam (Halcion) increase the likelihood of some parasomnias by suppressing REM sleep.

Sleepwalking occurs in about three percent of adults and possibly in over 15 percent of healthy children. Drugs that may induce sleepwalking by increasing the SWS state include lithium, amitriptyline (Elavil), and thioridazine (Mellaril).

Nightmares are reported to occur at least occasionally by 40 to 50 percent of adults. Nightmares are associated with REM sleep and occur primarily in the second half of the sleep period. Some beta-blockers, such as propranodol (Inderal), can predispose a patient to experiencing nightmares. Clomipramine (Anafranil), on the other hand, may suppress REM related nightmares.

Excessive daytime sleepiness can be caused by sedatives as well as by stimulants that disrupt sleep and cause sleep deprivation. Stimulants that can disrupt nighttime sleep include the anti-asthmatic drug theophylline, sympathomimetic bronchodilators such as ephedrine, and even caffeine. The effects of commonly prescribed sleeping medications, such as flurazepam (Dalmane) and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can persist beyond the normal period of sleep. Other drugs with similar effects include beta-blockers and prochlorperazine (Compazine), a dopamine-blocking drug used for nausea.

Anticancer chemotherapy, antiasthmatic, and  antiparkinson medications can also cause sleep disturbances. In the case of chemotherapy drugs, daytime sleepiness and fatigue are only a couple of the numerous side effects a patient faces. The other side effects, such as depression, gastrointestinal distress, and muscle and joint pain contribute to sleep disruptions, not to mention the primary pain of the cancer itself.

Most antiasthmatic drugs are known to alter sleep, but in varied ways. And since they are often used in combination with other drugs, the net effect is difficult to predict or understand. Asthmatics also suffer from symptoms and secondary conditions that affect sleep. One of these symptoms, gastroesophageal reflux, can also be aggravated by the antiasthmatic drug theophylline. Conversely, at least one antiasthmatic drug, salmeterol, a beta-adrenergic stimulator, has been shown to improve the quality of sleep.

Patients with Parkinson's Disease complain frequently with regard to sleep disturbances. 74–96 percent of those who suffer from Parkinson's report some kind of sleep disturbance, and sleep disorders associated with the disease vary greatly. And although antiparkinson’s medications are known to cause sleep disturbances, the mechanism behind this is not understood. Antiparkinson medications include levodopa (Sinemet), direct stimulators of dopamine receptors such as pergolide (Permax) and bromocriptine, drugs that inhibit the breakdown of dopamine like seligiline (Eldepryl), dopamine releasing agents like amantidine (Symmetrel), and drugs that block receptors for acetylcholine like benztropine (Cogentin) and trihexyphenidyl (Artane).

Taken from 'Diseases & Conditions' http://www.diseasesandconditions.net/sleep_disorders.html

Views: 419

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Hope2SleepGuide to add comments!

Join Hope2SleepGuide

Sleep Apnoea Forum

New to the Sleep Apnoea Forum? 

1. Stop by our Sleep Apnoea Welcome Center to introduce yourself to the SleepGuide community.
2. Start a New Topic of Conversation.
3. Post your photos - of yourself, your old CPAP machine, your new CPAP machine, your pet, something about you!

Interested in advertising, have a problem or need to contact us? Click the Report an Issue page.


Latest Activity

Kath Hope replied to Richard Smith's discussion Philips Trueblue
"You're not on your own there Richard - lots of people are upset the Liquicell has lost it's CE mark and can no longer be sold in the UK.  I am still in touch with the manufacturer, begging for them to resolve it, and am waiting for…"
Richard Smith replied to Richard Smith's discussion Philips Trueblue
"Hi Kath, Yes, I’m looking for a mask that’s more comfortable for the bridge of my nose and doesn’t leak.  I miss the liquicell cushions and was looking to try a mask that used gel.  i tried nasal pillows but I kept…"
Profile Icontriker and Daniel Grist joined Hope2SleepGuide
Daniel Grist added a discussion to the group Buy-Sell-Swap

Phillips dreamstation CPAP pro machine with heated humidifier and all accessories for sale

Phillips dreamstation CPAP pro machine with heated humidifier comes with all accessories including tubes face mask all manuals power leads and also carry bag only used a hand full of times like new open to offers many thanks. DanielSee More
Daniel Grist joined The SleepGuide Crew's group
Daniel Grist posted a discussion

Phillips dreamstation CPAP pro machine with heated humidifier and all accessories for sale

Phillips dreamstation CPAP pro machine with heated humidifier tubes face mask all manuals and power leads comes with carry bag  only used a hand full of times like new open to offers many thanks. DanielSee More
Kath Hope replied to Richard Smith's discussion Philips Trueblue
"Hi Richard.  You may have seen it on their main website but they discontinued it a year or more ago, along with a few others.  Are you struggling with your existing mask?"
Richard Smith replied to Richard Smith's discussion Philips Trueblue
"Hi Kath, thanks for the info.  I thought I’d seen it on the Philips website but maybe it was elsewhere."
Kath Hope replied to The SleepGuide Crew's discussion Welcome to our Forum - Feel Free to Introduce Yourself Here.
"Hi Bob I just replied to your other post and have the answer here (that it's APAP you're on).  Nobody will have a go at you on here, about driving, as you've clearly said that you don't drive when tired which is…"
Kath Hope replied to Mags's discussion Daytime Tiredness on CPAP
"Hi Bob (delayed reply as the forum wouldn't post last time I tried).  Your average pressure is certainly very low.  I'm assuming it's auto pressures (APAP)?  Your AHI is good too.  It would be better to upload a…"
Kath Hope replied to Richard Smith's discussion Philips Trueblue
"Sorry Richard, but I clearly remember replying to you a whle ago but my comment's not here.  If it's not too late to say, I'd mentioned that it may not be worth trying the Philip's TrueBlue as the mask is now discontinued as…"
Profile IconNever1 and Lucie Atwell joined Hope2SleepGuide
Edam replied to Edam's discussion Double inhaling
"The final answer is to change my mask back to a F & P  Flexifit 432 which has reduced my 95% pressure by up to 4cm.. Last night my 95% pressure was 16.1 with a AHI of 0.6"
Feb 13
James Lowes is now a member of Hope2SleepGuide
Feb 12
Richard Smith posted a discussion

Philips Trueblue

Hi,Does anyone have experience of the Philips Trueblue mask?  Any opinions?Thanks in advance.RichardSee More
Feb 10
Bob Young replied to Mags's discussion Daytime Tiredness on CPAP
"Hi Kath, I think, looking at the graphs that I have a very low flow rate and then an OA event and then the machine sends out one or more pulses. This is almost invariably when I wake. So it could be the OA event waking me (or waking causing the OA),…"
Feb 10
Royston Tucker replied to The SleepGuide Crew's discussion Welcome to our Forum - Feel Free to Introduce Yourself Here.
"Hi Kath, Thank you for your message, I attend the GP surgery and provided my evidence and completed the simple online test which all concluded I needed a referral which is great but I was told there is a long waiting list so I am not sure where…"
Feb 9
Kath Hope replied to Mags's discussion Daytime Tiredness on CPAP
"Sorry Bob, but I missed your post.  If you're having broken sleep this will cause daytime tiredness.  Roughly every 90 mins we go into REM sleep and I'm wondering if you're being woken up by the pressure rising when apnoeas…"
Feb 9
Kath Hope replied to The SleepGuide Crew's discussion Welcome to our Forum - Feel Free to Introduce Yourself Here.
"How did you get on at the GP Royston?  Hopefully, you got a sleep clinic referral as you do need a diagnosis for a CPAP machine which is a prescription item."
Feb 9
Royston Tucker replied to The SleepGuide Crew's discussion Welcome to our Forum - Feel Free to Introduce Yourself Here.
"Thank You Iain,I am seeing GP tomorrow with my evidence collected so far,  hopefully they will be compliant and assist me going forward, I was looking to just purchase a machine and I agree I did see the humidifier machines which do look a lot…"
Feb 3

© 2020   Created by The SleepGuide Crew.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service