Antipsychotics for Insomnia

Last updated: March 28, 2019

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Insomnia is a condition where a person is unable to go to sleep or stay asleep. There are many factors that can cause insomnia. Some people cannot sleep because of their sleeping environment. They live in a noisy neighborhood, or they work the graveyard shift and have to sleep during the day. Some suffer from insomnia because of their lifestyles. Like those frequently drink coffee even before bedtime. These are factors that are easy to deal with and remedy.

Unfortunately, there are some people who suffer from insomnia because of conditions related to their mental health. Some have insomnia because of work-related stress. There are also those who cannot sleep because of personal problems. These are people who have to rely on medications to relieve their insomnia.

Although there are medications specifically made to target insomnia and its symptoms, there are also medications not intended for insomnia but can also be effective in helping you fall asleep. These include antipsychotics.

What are antipsychotics?

Antipsychotics are a class of medication used to manage psychosis. They are also called neuroleptics or major tranquilizers. These are medications used to manage delusions. Hallucinations, paranoia or disordered thoughts. Antipsychotics are also used to manage schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

These medications are often used in the short term. This is due to the side effects associated with the long-term use of these medications.

Can antipsychotics really work against insomnia?

Yes, you can use antipsychotics to relieve insomnia and other sleep disorders, but only to a degree. Antipsychotic medications are sometimes prescribed by doctors to treat insomnia. These drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mental illnesses and not specifically to treat insomnia. However, it is not unheard-of for doctors to legally prescribe them. This is what we call off-label prescribing.

Most antipsychotic medications have sedating effects. Which explains why they can be used to treat insomnia. These medications also tend to decrease muscular actions so they can be used to improve sleep. Even though antipsychotics does not alter sleep cycles, they can increase the total sleep time. You should not use these medications for long periods. If used for long periods, tolerance to the sedating effects of these drugs may develop.

What are the most common antipsychotics?

Quetiapine

Quetiapine is an antipsychotic drug used to treat certain mental or mood conditions. Quetiapine helps by restoring the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Using this medication can help decrease hallucinations and improve concentration. Using this medication can help you think more clearly. Those who use this drug say that they feel positive about themselves. They feel less nervous. It also makes them more active in their everyday lives.

Olanzapine

Olanzapine is a medication used to treat mental or mood-related conditions like bipolar disorder. It can also be used to treat schizophrenia. If you experience hallucinations, taking this medicine can help decrease them. With the help of this medication, you can feel less agitated. It can also make you feel positive about yourself.

Risperidone

This is another medication used to treat mood or mental disorders. Doctors prescribe risperidone to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autism. You probably know risperidone as the brand-name drug Risperdal. It is also available as a generic drug.

What kind of side effects should I expect with antipsychotics?

When you purchase a medication it comes with a leaflet called a “patient information leaflet”. This leaflet contains information on what side effects you can expect from a drug. It also contains information on what you should do if you experience any side effects.

When taking antipsychotics, you may experience side effects such as:

  • Stiffness and shakiness
  • Akathisia or restlessness
  • Tardive dyskinesia or movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue
  • Slowness
  • Weight gain
  • Higher risk of diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Sexual problems caused by hormonal changes

Side effects are normal and experiencing them doesn’t mean that the antipsychotic is less effective. These are just your body’s reaction to the drug. It is also important to note that not all antipsychotics will cause these side effects.

Is it true that antipsychotics can cause heart problems?

Yes, some antipsychotics can affect your heart. You might need regular checkups of the heart if you have a heart condition. Regular checkups are also important if you have an existing heart condition.

Although you use antipsychotic medications for relieving mental or mood disorders, they can also be used to help patients who suffer from insomnia. This is because of the sedating effects of antipsychotics. If your doctor prescribes antipsychotics for your insomnia, it is not a cause for alarm. Your doctor is not telling you that you have a mental disorder. Listen carefully to your doctor so you will know what is being prescribed to you and what side effects you can expect from using the said drugs. If these medications can help you get quality sleep then why not?

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