Medication and Sleep Disturbance

Sleep disturbances come in all shapes and sizes, perhaps you’ve taken on a new work schedule, your neighbors are partying like they’ve won the lottery or you’ve just welcomed a new addition into the family. However, that lack of sleep you’ve rationalized could be caused by what’s sitting in your medicine cabinet (and you thought that unassuming little bottle was there to help you!)  

Modern medicine is a marvel and when it’s needed, we’re certainly grateful to have access to it but are we taking too much? According to a Mayo Clinic study, nearly 70% of Americans (7 out of 10 people) are taking at least one prescription drug regularly. More than 50% of Americans are taking two prescription drugs with 20% of patients taking five or more prescription drugs.   

“Certain heart, blood pressure, and asthma drugs, as well as over-the-counter medicines for colds, allergies, and headaches, can interrupt normal sleep patterns,” says James Wellman, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Georgia in Augusta. (   

Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America   

Antibiotics, painkilling opioids, and antidepressants being the most commonly prescribed drugs amongst patients. Prescription drugs that commonly cause sleep problems are; high blood pressure medication (beta-blockers), steroids, seizure medication, antidepressants, and inhaled respiratory medication among others.   

With global anxiety levels at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that antidepressants are the second most prescribed medication after heart disease and diabetes medication. Sometimes taking prescribed drugs can be unavoidable on our path to wellness. However, prescription drug spending is set to reach up to $610 billion by 2021, these pharmaceutical companies are certainly making a lot of money from our ill health.   

Is there an alternative?   

When fighting an infection, there can be no getting around taking an antibiotic such as penicillin. When managing pain, it can be almost impossible for some people to get through the day without a pain killer. When taking necessary medication that is impacting your ability to sleep, ask your doctor if there is an alternative medication or if possible, take a lower dose. Also, look at the time of day you usually take your medication as that could impact your sleep cycle.  

Regularly taking prescribed medication can have many side effects, we can lose sleep, we can sleep too much, we can lose our appetite, and we can become depressed. Taking medication sucks but don’t underestimate the benefit of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can work wonders on the body and mind. When battling medication-induced insomnia, regular exercise can combat those sleepless nights.

Support groups can help overcome insomnia and anxiety  

Need support? The ADAA (anxiety and depression association of America) or MHA (mental health America) could have a local group where you can get support. There are also many online support groups, remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.