Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Drug- and Alcohol-Related Sleep Problems

    Sleep problems have been associated with medication use, drug abuse, and withdrawal from drugs. Sleep disturbances also have been linked to the use of alcohol and to alcoholism.

    Drugs and Sleep

    Many prescription and nonprescription drugs can cause sleep problems. The severity of sleep problems caused by a drug will vary from person to person.

    Prescription drugs that may cause sleep problems include:

    The following nonprescription drugs can cause sleep problems:

    • Pseudoephedrine, including the brand Sudafed
    • Medications with caffeine. These include the brands Anacin, Excedrin, and No-Doz, as well as many cough and cold medications.
    • Illegal drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines.
    • Nicotine, which can disrupt sleep and reduce total sleep time. Smokers report more daytime sleepiness and minor accidents than do nonsmokers, especially in younger age groups.

     

    Alcohol and Sleep

    Alcohol often is thought of as a sedative or calming drug. While alcohol may induce sleep, the quality of sleep is often fragmented during the second half of the sleep period. Alcohol increases the number of times you awaken in the later half of the night, when the alcohol's relaxing effect wears off. It prevents you from getting the deep sleep and REM sleep you need, because alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep.

    With continued consumption just before bedtime, alcohol's sleep-inducing effect may decrease as its disruptive effects continue or increase. The sleep disruption resulting from alcohol use may lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness. The elderly are at particular risk for alcohol-related sleep disorders, because they achieve higher levels of alcohol in the blood and brain than do younger adults after consuming an equivalent dose. Bedtime alcohol consumption among older adults may lead to unsteadiness if walking is attempted during the night, with increased risk of falls and injuries.

     

     

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD on June 05, 2015

    Today on WebMD

    fatigued senior woman
    We’ve got 10 tips to show you how
    Man snoring in bed
    Know your myths from your facts.
     
    Young woman sleeping
    What do your dreams say about you?
    woman eith hangover
    It’s common, and really misunderstood.
     
    Young woman sleeping
    Quiz
    Cannot sleep
    Video
     
    child sitting in bed
    Article
    Woman with insomnia
    Quiz
     
    nurse sleeping
    ARTICLE
    Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
    Slideshow
    Pain at Night
    ARTICLE