Medications That Make You Lose Sleep And What To Do About It

Have you ever spent the night tossing and turning in your bed, desperately wishing for Morpheus to bring you a good night’s sleep? You have even resorted to counting sheep but try as you might, you can’t seem to catch that elusive sleep. Before you know it, your alarm jolts you out of yet another sleepless night.

Each one of us follows a circadian rhythm – daytime is for work, play, and other activities while we are designed to rest and recover at night. If our sleep schedule is disrupted, it affects our brain function and emotional well-being during the day. Sleep deprivation can also result in poor concentration and productivity, greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and obesity, depression, anxiety, and impaired immune function.

If you are having difficulty sleeping, it is easy to just credit it to stress, age, or work schedule. We often tend to overlook the role that certain medications play to aggravate this condition.

Every medication has negative side effects. One of the most common is the loss of sleep. Although not all of us need the full eight hours of every night, sleep is one of the pillars of health. To reach your ideal health level, one must have healthy sleeping habit along with proper nutrition and regular exercise.

Here are some medicines that may be costing you a few zzz’s.


These medicines are good for treating high blood pressure or hypertension, Raynaud’s disease, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These can also improve urine flow and muscle relaxation. These drugs prevent the hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from contracting, thus improving the blood flow and lowering the blood pressure.

However, these are also connected to the decrease in REM or rapid eye movement. When we are in this stage of active sleep, we are able to form vivid dreams. It is also vital for learning and daily mood control. Other side effects include nausea, tiredness, and tremors.

Some examples of alpha blockers are: silodosin (Rapaflo), doxazosin (Cardura), alfuzosin (Uroxatral), prazosin (Minipress), tamsulosin (Flomax), and terazosin (Hytrin).


A popular fix for hypertension and arrhythmias of abnormal heart rhythm problems, beta-blockers function by inhibiting the effects of adrenaline. This reduces the stress in the heart and the demands for oxygen. They are also used to treat migraines, glaucoma, and angina.

By temporary reducing the body’s fight or flight response, these drugs slow down the production of melatonin at night, a hormone that keeps sleep and our biological clock in check. So those who take these medicines experience nightmares and awakenings at night. A low melatonin level is also observed in cases with chronic insomnia or those who are deprived of sleep for three times a week for a month or longer.

Examples of these beta-blockers usually end with “-olol: atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), propranolol (Inderal), sotalol (Betapace), timolol (Timoptic)


If you are diagnosed with moderate to severe depression and anxiety, your prescription usually includes SSRIs. These medicines block the reuptake process that can help the production of more serotonin. Other types of neurotransmitters are safe since SSRIs specifically target the serotonin, earning them the title selective. This process may ease depression by helping the brain receive and send chemical messages.

While those who take these drugs vouch to getting better, they also suffer from reduced REM, daytime fatigue, insomnia, joint and muscle pains, and reduced sexual desire.

Examples of SSRIs are: fluoxetine (Prozac), fluoxetine (Luvox, Luvox CR), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR).


These medicines are used to aid in several health problems such as asthma, muscles and blood vessels inflammation, lupus, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, allergic reactions, and Sjögren’s syndrome.

Much like stress, corticosteroids keep the body awake by targeting the adrenal glands, making you unable to relax and sleep. They can also cause glaucoma, menstrual irregularity, and the rounding of the upper back or “Buffalo hump.”

These drugs include cortisone, prednisone (Deltasone and Sterapred), triamcinolone, and methylprednisolone (Medrol).


These drugs help in ministering to memory problems and mental instabilities. Often used by patients with some types of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, cholinesterase inhibitors enhance memory function, judgment, and attention.

On the flip side, a sharp increase in these activities impedes involuntary body functions such as those related to sleep. Aside from insomnia, these drugs also cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, and a change in heart rhythm. Experiencing these tend to drastically change one’s sleeping pattern.

Some medications that are cholinesterase inhibitors: rivastigmine (Exelon), donepezil (Aricept), and galantamine (Razadyne).


Being a natural part of the cartilage that pads the bones in between joints, both glucosamine and chondroitin are widely used to improve joint functions and treat osteoarthritis. These are available in tablet, capsule, liquid, or powder form can be used as dietary supplement for joints.

Common side effects of these medications are nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, bloating, and insomnia.


Widely used to lower the levels of cholesterol in the body, statins do the job by deterring the enzyme that controls the production of cholesterol in the liver. Statins are also called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.
The use of statins cause severe muscle pain that can keep the patient up all night. They can also trigger headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and rash. One of the more serious side effects is the rhabdomyolsis that affect the muscle tissues. It starts off with muscle pain and later develops to loss of muscle cells and kidney failure.

Examples of statins are: atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor)

Since most of these medicines are used to treat major health issues, it is best to consult your doctor if losing sleep and other side effects negatively affect your life. You can ask for safer alternatives, dosage adjustments, and experimentation with other drug combinations to ease the side effects of these drugs.

Consequently, you can also try to improve your sleeping habits. Make your bedroom conducive to sleeping by turning off the lights and keeping it well-ventilated. Try to stick to a regular sleeping habit even during the weekends. Stay away from stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine before bedtime. Doing activities that require quiet like meditation and reading as well as avoiding the use of your phones and computers will set you up for sleep. Lastly, though it takes time and practice, learn to steer clear of self-defeating negative thoughts that worry and agitate you. Don’t hesitate to ask for support in doing so.


Content is provided by Melissa Lobo.

Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.

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