In my last article, I talked about insomnia and some of the diseases that can cause this debilitating disorder. This time, I’ll address some of the medications prescribed for various diseases that can also disrupt your sleep. I won’t be providing any alternative forms of treatment here as the focus is on medicines that cause sleep disruptions.
But first, let’s briefly talk about sleep itself.
What causes us to Sleep?
How does sleep ‘work’? What causes you to fall asleep? And what wakes causes you up?
One way to look at it is that you gain a sleep debt while awake. When you’re awake, you accumulate a sleep debt. As this debt rises, the need to sleep becomes stronger. Eventually the need to sleep becomes stronger than the need to stay awake. At that point, you fall asleep.
Then as you sleep, you ‘pay off’ this sleep debt. As this debt gets paid off, the need to sleep naturally becomes weaker. Finally, it gets to the point where the need to sleep becomes less than the need to stay awake; and you wake up.
What’s the Reason for Sleep?
Sleep isn’t just a time to ‘stop and rest’. A lot of things happen while you snooze. As a matter of fact, different stages of sleep provide both physical and mental benefits. For instance, memories are processed in REM sleep. While slow wave sleep produces certain hormones that aid in growth and restoration of your body. Our bodies are created to self-heal. And part of that healing process involves quality sleep.
So then, ideal sleep is necessary for your health and well being. Therefore, poor quality sleep isn’t good. Thus, if you have a disease that’s disrupting your sleep, and you’re taking medications that further disturb that sleep, you’re kinda fighting against the healing process.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more common medications and how they disrupt your sleep pattern.
Many medications for allergies cause drowsiness; however, there are some that don’t. Benadryl (diphenhydramine ) is a common over the counter medication that does cause drowsiness.
In addition to causing drowsiness, some of the medications prescribed for anxiety- also impair performance, such as driving. However, there isn’t solid evidence these impairments continue with long term use. Some of the more common medications are Xanax (alprazolam ), Klonopin ( clonazapam ), and Valium (diazapam ).
If you struggle with depression, you also have sleep disturbances. You’re most likely fighting sleep when you should be awake, and yet finding it hard to stay asleep. Additionally, the very medications you are prescribed can cause further sleep disruptions.
Drowsiness is more common with the older antiepileptic medications; less so with the newer ones. Also, cognitive impairment is more common with Luminal (phenobarbital ) than with other medications.
Some medications for your heart can cause tiredness and fatigue. Other side-effects can include vivid dreams, nightmares, depression, and mental confusion. In some studies, medications such as Inderal (propranolol), Lopressor (metoprolol), showed an increase in wake time.
Additionally, most medications prescribed for your heart decrease REM sleep.
People with Schizophrenia usually suffer from insomnia and other sleep disturbances. While most medications prescribed for this disorder cause drowsiness. Although, the older drugs, such as Haldol ( haloperidal ), Mellaril (thioridiazine ), and Thorazine ( chlorpromazine ), are more sedating than the newer drugs.
Daytime sleepiness, along with trouble sleeping at night are some of the characteristics of this disorder. some of this is due to abnormal movements during sleep cause numerous awakenings.
The main drug used to treat Parkinson’s is Sinemet( levodopa/carbidopa ). Ironically, some of the more common side effects of this drug include unusual and uncontrollable body movements.
Pain is kind of a double edged sword. On the one hand, it disturbs sleep. On the other hand, lack of sleep can increase pain. And while pain medication can cause drowsiness, many of the diseases that cause pain also cause sleep problems.
Some disorders cause sleep disturbances. However, sometimes the very medications you take for a disorder further complicate things by causing even more disruptions to your sleep. And because good quality sleep is essential to your health, this can be a bit of a problem.
Therefore some medications themselves become a double edged sword. Helping the disorder, while hindering the sleep you so desperately need. Hopefully, further research will solve this dilemma.
Till next time…Blessings.