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Top Ten Sleep Disturbances – #5 Medications

Written by Heather Johnson, RN
Resource Nurse, Empira

Can Medications Interfere With Restorative Sleep?

Can medication interfere with restorative sleep?

The answer is simply, “YES! “ A host of medications can contribute to insomnia (Sleep Foundation, 2018).  Conversely, a number of medications can cause and contribute to day-time drowsiness and napping.  Recall from the last blog that napping can interfere with restorative sleep.   Couple that with some standard medication administration times and practices in long-term care and we have a recipe for anything BUT restorative sleep.

 The Sleep Foundation highlights the following medication list that can affect sleep:

  • Anti-arrhythmic medications
  • Beta blockers
  • Clonidine
  • Corticosteroids
  • Diuretics
  • Cough, cold, and flu medications that contain alcohol
  • Headache and pain medications that contain caffeine
  • Nicotine replacement products (patches, lozenges, gum)
  • Sedating Antihistamines
  • SSRI’s
  • Medications to treat ADD and ADHD
  • Theophylline used to treat asthma
  • Thyroid hormone replacements
  • Herbal replacements

These medications can disrupt restorative sleep and your normal circadian rhythm.  Don’t lose sleep over the side-effects.

What can you do about it? Talk with your Medical Provider, Nurse Practitioner, and Pharmacist and ask if your medications could be contributing to your poor sleep.  There may be other medications, non-pharmacologic interventions, possible recommendations on changing of the time of day in which you take the medications and dosing changes that can possibly be made. Restorative sleep is foundational to our overall health and well-being.  Do seek medical advice from the experts to aid to in aligning your medication to best support you and that offers you the best opportunity for restorative sleep. 

A “perfect prescription” for a good night’s sleep just may be a change in your medication.



Evidence-Based Design Meets Evidence-Based Medicine: The sound sleep study. The Center for Health Design Research Coalition. Harvard Medical School, 2010.  Retrieved from:

National Sleep Foundation: What is sleep hygiene?  Retrieved from:  https on October 3, 2018.


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