Does Fluoxetine improve sleep? (+3 strategies)
In this article, we will discuss whether Fluoxetine can improve sleep. We will also discuss some research studies and other treatment strategies for improving sleep.
Does Fluoxetine improve sleep?
Fluoxetine may improve sleep in some people, but it is not a sedative antidepressant. Actually, Fluoxetine can cause sleepiness or insomnia, and it is impossible to predict these side effects before actually taking the medication.
Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It is primarily used to manage anxiety and depression (1). It does not generally induce sleep nor it is prescribed for that. However, it can be used to manage physical signs of anxiety and depression. This may make you feel relaxed and improve sleep in some people. The medication itself does not induce sedation.
Not all patients experience improvement in sleep while on Fluoxetine but few may experience it to a greater extent. However, if you feel excessive sleepiness while being on Fluoxetine, you should seek medical attention.
How does Fluoxetine improve sleep?
Fluoxetine improves sleep based on its mechanism of action. However, more studies are required to know the exact process by which Fluoxetine improves sleep.
Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. These medications work by blocking the serotonin in the brain which results in an increase in the levels of this neurotransmitter (2).
Based on its mechanism of action Fluoxetine alters the level of serotonin in the brain which has a profound effect on mood changes and sleep patterns. Thus Fluoxetine affects the sleep patterns in patients by altering the brain chemistry.
It is important to note that individual responses to medications vary, especially those medications which affect brain chemistry. So Fluoxetine can cause both sleepiness and insomnia, and it is impossible to predict these side effects before actually taking the medication.
What does research suggest?
There are limited research studies indicating the relationship between Fluoxetine and sleep. One study indicated that people taking a low dose of Fluoxetine usually 20 mg/day experienced better sleep and felt happier (3).
It suggests that this small amount of Fluoxetine has similar effects on REM sleep, like many other antidepressants (3).
Another study justified the use of Fluoxetine in people having trouble sleeping, feeling very down and having a shorter REM sleep time (4).
Another study indicated that taking Fluoxetine (40 mg) each day for three weeks had noticeable effects on sleep patterns and brain activity during non-REM sleep. This includes changes in how quickly REM sleep starts, which are connected to how antidepressants work (5).
What to do if Fluoxetine affects sleep?
To manage sleep disturbances induced by Fluoxetine, you need to carefully monitor your sleep-related symptoms and their effects on your daily productivity and mental alertness.
If your sleep disturbances are altering your daily normal routine, then you should seek medical help. Your doctor might lower or reduce the dosage of Fluoxetine. By doing so the severity of the side effects associated with increased dosage are reduced.
Your doctor may also switch you to another antidepressant that does not cause sleep-related side effects and is generally considered safe in treating your condition.
Fluoxetine may interact with other medications or underlying conditions which may impact sleep. Therefore in case of any sleep-related side effects associated with Fluoxetine, you should seek medical help.
What are the effective treatment strategies for insomnia?
There are a number of effective treatment strategies for insomnia, but you first need to consult your healthcare provider. The treatment of insomnia depends on the severity of your sleeplessness and your overall physiological compatibility with the drug options available.
As far as medications are concerned, there are plenty of sleep aids available, OTC and prescription medications. Among OTC sleep aids diphenhydramine is considered effective.
Prescription medications should be recommended by your doctor, as most of these medications come with side effects and not every medication works well for everyone. Commonly used prescription medications to improve sleep include:
- Benzodiazepines: Alprazolam, Lorazepam etc.
- Sedative hypnotics: Zolpidem
- Sedative antidepressants: Trazodone, Mirtazapine etc.
Make sure you only take these medications if prescribed by your healthcare provider.
In my view and the knowledge available, it is evident that Fluoxetine may improve sleep in some people. However, individual responses to medications vary. If you feel sleep-related issues while taking Fluoxetine, reach out to your healthcare provider for proper guidance and treatment plans.
Was this helpful?
Sohel AJ, Shutter MC, Molla M. Fluoxetine. [Updated 2022 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459223/
Vasar V, Appelberg B, Rimón R, Selvaratnam J. The effect of fluoxetine on sleep: a longitudinal, double-blind polysomnographic study of healthy volunteers. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1994 Sep;9(3):203-6. doi: 10.1097/00004850-199409000-00009. PMID: 7814830.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7814830/#:~:text=Results%20of%20the%20subjective%20assessment,characteristic%20of%20most%20antidepressive%20drugs.