It might never occur to you that the drugs you’re taking for your heart or your arthritis could harm your sleep. But this is the conclusion of Dr. Armon B. Neel, whose article on meds that can cause insomnia appeared in the AARP newsletter last week.
Neel’s article is well worth reading for those of us who are inclined to insomnia and who are managing other chronic health conditions with prescription drugs. Here’s a summary of the ten types of drugs that could interfere with getting a good night’s rest:
- Alpha-blockers such as Uroxatral and Flomax, used to treat high blood pressure, prostate problems, and other conditions involving muscle constriction. These drugs can decrease REM sleep and increase daytime sleepiness.
- Beta-blockers like metoprolol and propranolol, used to treat hypertension and abnormal heart rhythms. They can inhibit secretion of melatonin and lead to more frequent wake-ups at night.
- Corticosteroids like cortisone and prednisone, used to reduce inflammation and treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout. High doses of these drugs can cause mood swings and insomnia.
- SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, and Zoloft. They cause agitation and insomnia in 10 to 20 percent of the people who use them.
- ACE inhibitors like benazepril and captopril, used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Up to a third of the people who take these drugs develop a hacking cough and other symptoms that keep them awake at night.
- Angiotensin II-receptor blockers like candesartan and irbesartan, used to treat heart problems and type 2 diabetes. The side effects of these drugs—diarrhea, leg cramps, achy muscles—can disrupt sleep.
- Cholinesterase inhibitors like Aricept and Exelon, used to treat memory loss and dementia. The main side effects are diarrhea, nausea, and sleep disturbances.
- Non-sedating antihistamines such as Claritin and Allegra, used to treat allergies. These drugs block secretion of acetylcholine and thus can cause anxiety and insomnia.
- Statins such as Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor, and Zocor, used to treat high cholesterol. A common side of effect of statins is muscle pain, which can keep users awake.
- Glucosamine and chondroitin, used to relieve joint pain and decrease inflammation. Side effects of these dietary supplements include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and insomnia.
You’ll find a complete list of sleep-disrupting drugs in Dr. Neel’s article, as well as advice about alternative treatments for chronic health problems that they are used for. These drugs do not always give rise to insomnia. But if you suspect your daily meds could be contributing to your sleep problem, consider exploring the issue with your doctor.
Have certain medications had a negative impact on your sleep? Which ones, and what effect did they have?