Iowa Sleep Blog

Antidepressants and Sleepiness

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Written by Steve Zorn, MD, Board Certified Sleep Physician and Medical Director of Iowa Sleep

The use of agents to treat disease and relieve pain have been suggested to date back at least to 5,000 BC with the Sumerians use of opium. Like other medications, antidepressants are very useful. They are used to treat a myriad of health problems such as depression, anxiety, and nerve pain. Despite their useful aspects, no medication is perfect.

Antidepressants can make you sleepy or they can produce insomnia. It is often a matter of your neurological wiring. Individuals on the same dose of the same medication can have completely opposite effects. One person may become sleepy. One may report having insomnia. A third may not have the sleepiness or the insomnia!

Here is a list of common antidepressants that have a risk of increased sleepiness compared to a placebo. It should be noted that this list does not mean that an individual taking the drug will have increased sleepiness, it is just that there is an increased risk. This information came from the work of Dr. Alberti from the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

  • Agomelatine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Escitalopram
  • Venlafaxine
  • Parozetine
  • Desvenlafaxine
  • Duloxetine
  • Citalopram
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Mirtazapine
  • Amitriptyline

In our clinic, patients who report daytime sleepiness and are on a morning dose of antidepressants are often switched to an evening dosing schedule as a trial. This switch in the dosing does not interfere with the depression treatment and it helps to rule out another cause of excessive sleepiness. These trials usually last 5 days and then are re-evaluated to see if the sleepiness has changed. PLEASE NOTE: ANY CHANGING IN DOSING OF MEDICATIONS SHOULD BE DONE WITH APPROVAL OF YOUR HEALTHCARE PRACTIIONER!

If you have questions, we encourage you to reach out to a doctor at Iowa Sleep by sending us a question. We can help you identify the reasons you may not be sleeping well and get you on the path to sleeping better each night to wake you ready to take on another day. You can also call (800) 226-6084 to schedule an consult with one of our board certified sleep physicians.