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When Aches & Pain Disrupt Sleep: Medication Chart


WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD

There is no perfect treatment for pain and sleeplessness. It all depends on your particular case -- the kind of pain you have and the other medications you take, for instance.

The first step for anyone with sleep problems is to improve their sleep habits. This helps set the stage for a good night's rest.

You might also benefit from medication. Some drugs ease pain, which can help with sleep. Other medicines are available to just aid sleep problems. Many people need both. But don't treat chronic pain and insomnia on your own. Over-the-counter drugs are not intended for long-term use. Instead, talk to your health care provider so you can get a personalized treatment plan.

Here are some of the drugs that help people with chronic pain feel better and get some rest.

 

Drug ClassBenefitsRisks

Over-the-counter NSAIDs
(nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

 

Relieves pain and reduces swellingSide effects include a risk of ulcers and bleeding. Not for long-term use unless recommended by your health care provider. Take with food.
Over-the-counter acetaminophen
  • Tylenol
  • Panadol
  • An ingredient in Excedrin
Relieves painThey can also cause liver toxicity in high doses. Not for long-term use unless recommended by your health care provider.
Over-the-counter combined sleep aids/pain drugs
  • Advil PM (ibuprofen and diphenhydramine)
  • Tylenol PM (acetaminophen and diphenhydramine)
Relieves pain and helps with sleepThese drugs help you sleep by including an antihistamine, an ingredient in cold medicines that may also work as a sedative. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, the effectiveness of antihistamines as a sleep aid is not well established and they can have side effects like daytime drowsiness and decreased cognitive function. Not for long-term use.
Opioid painkillers
Relieves more severe painSide effects include nausea, constipation, and a risk of addiction. Some of these medicines can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, reducing the amount of deep sleep you get.
Muscle relaxants
Relieves more severe painRelieves pain from spasm and helps with sleep. Side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation and confusion. Should not be used for long-term pain relief.
Benzodiazepines
Used to reduce anxiety, benzodiazepines can also aid with sleep.These drugs are not for long-term use. Side effects can include daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, and dependence. They can also reduce the amount of REM sleep.
Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics
Aids with sleep, while not causing the same disruptions to the sleep cycle that benzodiazepines do; they are generally considered to be safer for longer use.Side effects can be similar to those of benzodiazepines, although generally less severe.
Anticonvulsants
Originally used to prevent seizures, these drugs can also help with nerve pain.Side effects include drowsiness and dizziness. You should never stop taking these medicines abruptly.

Antidepressants
 

Reduces pain, particularly for headache, nerve pain, and fibromyalgia; some can aid sleep.

Cymbalta is approved for musculoskeletal pain.

These drugs may not be effective for other types of pain, like sports injuries or back pain. Antidepressants are powerful drugs that can have serious side effects. Talk to your health care provider about side effects you should watch out for.

Reviewed on June 06, 2014

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You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or other conditions affecting your sleep.

Sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get too little sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping, have insomnia, or have other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep, since sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

You say you are able to function well with fewer than seven hours of sleep. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

It's good that you usually do get more sleep because sleep deprivation can have both short- and long-term consequences. Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. And if you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's not surprising you feel that you're not functioning at your best today. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep — whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months — have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine hours.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have difficulty sleeping or have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's important to keep your bedtime and routine consistent every night and wake up around the same time every morning.

Click here to read more about the importance of sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep this amount, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and wake time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Since you usually sleep longer, if you often aren't feeling your best, you should consider talking to your doctor. Could you have an underlying condition? Are you feeling anxious or depressed? Have you taken medication that disrupted your sleep? Do you or could you have sleep apnea? Or do you naturally require a little bit more sleep?

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can also have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health. Whether your sleep routine involves taking a warm bath, reading a book, or meditating, it's also important to keep bedtime consistent and wake up around the same time every morning.

Although sleep is crucial for optimal health, some research suggests that sleeping too much can have negative consequences. Learn more about sleep. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's unfortunate you're not functioning at your best today. You say you had a good quantity of sleep last night, but maybe the quality of your sleep is not as good as it could be? Having a good sleep routine — including a consistent bedtime and waking up at the same time — often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, please talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia, another sleep disorder, or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

It's wonderful that you got a good night's sleep last night. Many people struggle to do so. Having a good sleep routine often is the key to getting the quality sleep night after night that your body needs for optimal health.

Since you usually get less sleep, talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. Poor quality sleep can affect many areas of your life and health, and your doctor may be able to help you if you have insomnia or another sleep disorder or conditions affecting your sleep.

Learn more about the health consequences of sleep loss. If you're concerned about having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, assess your risk for a sleep disorder.

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Effect of short sleep duration on daily activities--United States, 2005-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2011; 60:239.

Carskadon, MA, Dement, WC. Normal Human Sleep: An Overview. In: Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine, Fifth, Kryger, MH, Roth, et al. (Eds), Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis, MO 2011. p.16.

Harvard University: "Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety."

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