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Antipsychotic Medications and Sleep

Low doses of antipsychotic medications are prescribed to treat sleep disorders like insomnia. Read more about antipsychotic medications and sleep disorders.

Antipsychotics are also known as major tranquilizers and are sometimes used to treat sleep disorders due to their sedating effects. How sedating an antipsychotic is depends on dose and type.

Typical Antipsychotics

Most typical, or first-generation, antipsychotics have sedating effects. Typical antipsychotic medications also tend to decrease muscular actions created by psychiatric disorders, like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which also may improve sleep. Sleep cycles, including REM-sleep, are not altered by antipsychotics, although total sleep time may increase. Tolerance to the sedating effect of these drugs may develop during treatment.

Examples of typical antipsychotics include:

Atypical Antipsychotics

The atypical, or second generation, antipsychotics are less prone to inducing sedation although some atypical antipsychotic drugs are still associated with extreme tiredness and may shift sleep patterns. Tolerance to the sedating effect of these drugs may develop during treatment and withdrawal may result in insomnia.

Commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotics include:

  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) - known for extreme sedation and sometimes prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa) - sedation is a common side effect
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify) - sedation is a common side effect
  • Risperidone (Risperdal) - has been known to cause both tiredness and insomnia depending on the individual. People taking Risperidone for schizophrenia more commonly experience insomnia, while those taking it for bipolar mania are more likely to experience tiredness.xi

Click here for endnotes

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, September 8). Antipsychotic Medications and Sleep, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/sleep-disorders/antipsychotics-and-sleep

Last Updated: July 9, 2019
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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