According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, as many as 50 percent of adults over the age of 60 report having some difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. A clinical diagnosis of insomnia is at around 20 percent in that age group.
One of the biggest factors that lead to insomnia (broadly defined as dissatisfaction with sleep) is medication side effects.
Essex Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing would like to go over five common medications that can adversely affect how you sleep.
Alpha-blockers are mostly prescribed to treat high blood pressure and prostate problems. They relax certain muscles to keep blood vessels open and help improve urine flow. They are also linked to decreased REM sleep – the sleep stage that produces dreams. If this is an issue, you can ask your doctor about benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers.
This family of drugs (including cortisone and prednisone) are used to treat things like inflammation of blood vessels, along with allergic reactions, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs throw off your adrenal glands, which is what controls your body’s fight-or-flight response. The additional stress keeps your body awake and your mind active. Sometimes, taking these medications first thing in the morning can cause them to wear off a bit by time it’s time for bed.
- ACE Inhibitors
This is another high blood pressure medication, but they also treat congestive heart failure. One side effect of this medication is a hacking, dry cough, so while sleep may not be directly affected, the coughing can lead to restless nights. Benzothiazepine calcium channel blockers may also be used as an alternative for ACE inhibitors.
- Cholinesterase Inhibitors
These medications are used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. They are supposed to slow the memory loss process, but there are questions to how effective they are. They also have some unpleasant side effects that include changes in heart rhythm, diarrhea, nausea, and insomnia.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These dietary supplements are used to help relieve joint pain and are marketed as supplements to treat arthritis. Side effects include insomnia, headaches, nausea, and diarrhea. One study shows that participating in yoga and getting routine massages can be more helpful than taking these supplements, and of course, come with no side effects.