Does Cymbalta cause night terror? (9+ tips)

This article will explore whether Cymbalta can cause night terrors. It will discuss the mechanisms by which Cymbalta can cause this phenomenon and examine the research conducted about it.

Furthermore, this article will mention all the factors that influence Cymbalta-related sleep terrors. Finally, it will provide tips on how to manage this condition.

Does Cymbalta cause night terror?

Cymbalta may cause night terrors in very rare cases and in a small percentage of patients. Night terrors are among the least reported side effects of Cymbalta.

People who have poor sleep hygiene, suffer from emotional and physical stress, or take other medications that can induce night terrors may be more likely to experience this phenomenon, but it remains a rare occurrence.

If you experience night terrors while taking Cymbalta, it is important to report this to your doctor. They can provide recommendations and strategies to help manage this side effect.

How can Cymbalta cause night terrors?

Cymbalta increases norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the brain. For instance, it can enhance norepinephrine activity in the locus ceruleus, a brain region that inhibits REM sleep and is involved in dream activity [1].

Additionally, SNRIs like Cymbalta can also inhibit acetylcholine, which plays a role in brain activity during sleep [1].

This can lead to increased acetylcholine activity later at night, resulting in more intense dreams and potentially worse nightmares. Consequently, Cymbalta may contribute to the occurrence of nightmares, which can then contribute to sleep terrors [1].

Studies have indicated that sleep terrors may be influenced by disturbances in stage three or four non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. As Cymbalta can cause insomnia and affect NREM sleep in some individuals, it is conceivable that it might increase the likelihood of experiencing sleep terrors [2,3].

Furthermore, Cymbalta has been associated with restless leg syndrome, which is a potential predisposing factor for sleep terrors. Pristiq is another SNRI that may also cause restless leg syndrome.

Moreover, insomnia, a common side effect of Cymbalta, can also increase the likelihood of experiencing sleep terrors [3].

Lastly, individuals with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are more prone to experiencing night terrors. Considering that Cymbalta is prescribed for these conditions, it is more common for people taking it to experience sleep terrors [3].

What does research suggest?

According to an investigation that analyzed patients’ reviews and complaints, it was found that 5% (407 out of 8092) of the reports regarding duloxetine were related to sleep side effects. Specifically, these included 18 reviews (0.2%) where patients reported experiencing duloxetine-induced sleep terrors [4].

Similarly, venlafaxine, which is also a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor like duloxetine, had 18 reports (0.2%) of sleep terrors. Therefore, it can be concluded that serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, including duloxetine, may cause night terrors in a very small percentage of patients who take them [4].

What factors influence Cymbalta-induced night terrors?

Several factors can influence the occurrence of sleep terrors in individuals taking Cymbalta, including [3]:

Diseases or health conditions.

First of all, sleep terrors may be influenced by genetic factors. To illustrate, patients who have the specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles HLA DQB1*04 and HLA DQB1*05:01 are more likely to experience sleep terrors while taking Cymbalta.

Moreover, certain conditions or situations can increase the likelihood of experiencing this, such as intercurrent febrile illness or sleeping with a full bladder during sleep. Tiredness (which is a side effect of Cymbalta) and physical stress can also increase the occurrence of this phenomenon.

People with mental health problems, such as those suffering from emotional stress, PTSD, depression, and anxiety, are at higher risk of experiencing Cymbalta-induced night terrors. Additionally, diseases like ADHD, autistic disorder, and epilepsy may increase the occurrence of sleep terrors.

Other disorders that may disrupt sleep and cause night terrors include obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, nocturnal asthma, migraines, gastroesophageal reflux, hypnic jerks, and restless leg syndrome.

Lifestyle and sleep factors

An uncomfortable and noisy sleeping environment increases the risk of Cymbalta-related night terrors. People who excessively consume caffeine or alcohol are also at higher risk of suffering from Cymbalta-related sleep terrors.


Moreover, the concurrent administration of certain drugs, including neuroleptics, sedatives, stimulants, clonidine, cocaine, and antihistamines, increases the likelihood of the occurrence of sleep terrors.

How to manage Cymbalta-related night terrors?

If you experience sleep terrors while taking Cymbalta, here are some management strategies that may help [3]:

  • First of all, you must inform your doctor about this side effect. You should tell him about your medical and medication histories as well. They will assess your condition and adjust your treatment plan accordingly.


  • Minimize noise and ensure a comfortable sleeping environment.
  • Try to implement methods that reduce stress and anxiety, such as deep breathing, reading a book, meditation, etc.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and avoid using screens directly before sleeping.


  • If you happen to get injured during these episodes, it is recommended that you ensure safe surroundings. For example, you should remove any potentially dangerous objects from the sleeping area to prevent injury during night terrors.


  • Consider approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy or hypnosis.


  • Anticipatory awakening is helpful. It involves waking up 15 – 30 minutes before the usual time of the night terror episode and staying awake for a few minutes before falling asleep again. This helps interrupt the episode.


  • Furthermore, if night terrors occur due to a certain mental health condition, psychotherapeutic interventions may be helpful.
  • In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage sleep terrors.
  • Finally, if Cymbalta-related night terrors persist, your doctor may consider lowering your dose or switching you to another drug.

What drugs help with night terrors?

Clonazepam, a benzodiazepine, can be used in the short term to manage this problem. It has been found to suppress stages three and four of NREM sleep, which helps reduce night terrors [3]. 

In addition, certain tricyclic antidepressants, such as imipramine and amitriptyline, have shown effectiveness in managing night terrors. Other antidepressants, like SSRIs including paroxetine and fluoxetine, mirtazapine, and ramelteon, have also proven efficacy in helping with this phenomenon [3]. 

Furthermore, the intake of melatonin can help improve sleep and reduce sleep disturbances such as night terrors [3].


Based on my research, I concluded that Cymbalta is rarely associated with night sweats. I found that it is more likely to cause this side effect in people with risk factors.

According to my knowledge, these risk factors mainly include genetic predisposition, excessive caffeine and alcohol use, emotional and physical stress, and an uncomfortable sleep environment. Furthermore, I found that certain diseases can increase one’s risk of experiencing Cymbalta-induced night terrors.

If you experience night terrors while taking Cymbalta, I recommend reporting them to your doctor as soon as possible. They may suggest approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnosis, or anticipatory waking.

They can also prescribe medications that may help with your condition, including clonazepam, certain antidepressants, and melatonin supplements.

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Kierlin L, Littner MR. Parasomnias and antidepressant therapy: a review of the literature. Front Psychiatry. 2011 Dec 12;2:71. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00071. PMID: 22180745; PMCID: PMC3235766.


Kluge M, Schüssler P, Steiger A. Duloxetine increases stage 3 sleep and suppresses rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in patients with major depression. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2007 Jul;17(8):527-31. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2007.01.006. Epub 2007 Mar 6. PMID: 17337164.


Leung AKC, Leung AAM, Wong AHC, Hon KL. Sleep Terrors: An Updated Review. Curr Pediatr Rev. 2020;16(3):176-182. doi: 10.2174/1573396315666191014152136. PMID: 31612833; PMCID: PMC8193803.


Johan Natter, Taïoh Yokoyama, Bruno Michel, Relative frequency of drug-induced sleep disorders for 32 antidepressants in a large set of Internet user reviews, Sleep, Volume 44, Issue 12, December 2021, zsab174,

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