Why Medication May Be Hindering Your Sleep, and 3 Tips On What You Can Do About It


By Adarsh Shah

Are you finding it hard to get a good night’s sleep? Are you reading this right now, staring at the light of your phone in the middle of the night, wishing that you could find the secret to unlock good, deep, restful sleep?

While there are plenty of reasons why you may not be getting the sleep you need and deserve, one cause may surprise you – the impact of your daily medication on your sleep. Whether you believe it or not, the very medicines you take to increase your health could be ruining one of the most critical parts of your night!

Medications are designed to heal, but they also come with side effects. One of these is insomnia or difficulty sleeping. What’s more, these adverse side effects may be worsened by other prescriptions you’re taking for chronic illnesses!

Unfortunately, an interrupted or shallow slumber can be detrimental to your health, even if you manage to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.  This article will discuss how medications can affect your sleep quality and what you can do to get better rest.

How Medication is Disrupting Your Sleep

Medication can affect sleep directly or indirectly: Some medications affect the body’s sleep biology directly, while other medications cause side effects (like having to go to the bathroom more frequently), that affect sleep indirectly.  Let’s look at the medication types that have been shown to negatively impact your sleep quality:

Stimulants are often prescribed to help fight off daytime fatigue and can be found in many of today’s most popular allergy, cold and flu medicines. These drugs can cause sleep disruptions by preventing deep sleep, particularly if you take them later on in the day.

Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers
Antidepressants are often prescribed for mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, while mood stabilizers are typically used to treat bipolar disorder. These medications can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm, leading to restless nights of poor quality sleep.

Pain Killers (Corticosteroids)
Corticosteroids are often prescribed for several conditions, such as asthma or arthritis. These medications can cause insomnia and poor sleep quality due to their effect on the central nervous system.  Larger doses can cause unpleasant dreams, particularly if taken in the evening.

Beta-blockers are often prescribed to treat high blood pressure or abnormal heart rhythms. These medications slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure by blocking your body’s response to adrenaline – disrupting your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Other hormones are thought to be blocked as well, including melatonin, which is essential for falling asleep fast and staying asleep longer.

Steps to Get Better Sleep

To begin with, you should speak to your doctor if you think your medication is having an affect on your sleep.  Speak with your healthcare provider before stopping any medication without their input.  Here are 3 topics to discuss with them:

1. Switch up the Timing
Your doctor may offer insight into better times to take your medication to reduce the impact on your sleep.  You want to avoid taking medications that contain stimulants too close to bedtime.

2. Change the Dosage
Depending on your latest blood work, or health conditions, your doctor can also suggest changes in your medication dosage.  Lowering your dosage could reduce the effect on your body and trigger fewer changes to the hormones that control your sleep cycle.

3. Ask for An Alternative
If the above doesn’t work, you could ask for an alternative.  There are usually multiple medication options to treat common ailments and chronic diseases.  For example, for older adults with high blood pressure, a better alternative to beta-blockers could be benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers.

Sleeping Pills & Natural Sleep Aids

Today’s society tends to want to treat every widespread health issue, like insomnia, with a “magic pill”.  And, a third of us have experienced insomnia at some point in our life.  As a result, in the last 3 years, there has been an explosion in the number of sleep aids available.  It has become an $80 Billion industry of which sleep medication makes up two thirds.

The problem is that sleep medications are often not the solution: They can become habit-forming if you’ve been taking them for a while and can make it harder for you to sleep: Over time, the body develops a dependency on the sleep drug, and can cause insomnia to return when the medication is stopped.

A safer alternative could be natural sleep aids, however, you should speak to your doctor first to ensure that they will not interact with your prescriptions. Some popular options that could help you get a more restful night’s sleep include Melotonin, Magnesium, Chamomile Tea, Valerian root, and L-Theanine.

The Key to a Good Night’s Sleep? Balance

As you can see, medication, while often necessary, can have a negative effect on your overall sleep quality. It may be time to consider how you can better balance your daily routines and medications to get better, healthier sleep.

The key to getting the restful night of sleep you need may be as simple as taking care of your body during the day. Eating well, exercising regularly, and drinking plenty of water are all important ways to make sure that your body is ready for a good night’s sleep.

One has to balance the benefits of medication with the scientifically proven mental and physical benefits of better sleep.  Quality sleep can have a powerful restorative effect on the body, which could radically reduce or even eliminate the need for medication.

By finding the right balance, you can enjoy a more restful night’s sleep and see the whole-life benefits that come with it.

To learn more about how you can improve your sleep quality, contact the friendly sleep experts at Ultramatic.  Visit Ultramatic.ca to book an appointment, email [email protected], or call 1-866-413-4169 for a free consultation. Plus, C.A.R.P. members receive special savings:

  1. 25% OFF All Sleep Accessories (like Pillows and Sheets)
  2. Up to $500 OFF Mattresses, Bases or Walk-in Bathtubs

1-866-413-4169 | Ultramatic.ca | 508 Lawrence Ave W., Toronto, M6C 1A1