Does Zoloft cause insomnia temporarily?

This article will answer the question, “Does Zoloft cause insomnia temporarily?”. We will also discuss other potential sleep problems with the medication and common treatment strategies to help counteract them.  

Does Zoloft cause insomnia temporarily?

Yes, Zoloft can cause insomnia during the early course of your treatment. This is, in fact, one of the most common side effects reported. 

Several surveys have revealed that people usually suffer from insomnia when they start the treatment for the very first time or when their doses are increased. 

However, Zoloft-induced early insomnia goes away within 2-3 weeks of your treatment or when the medication finally kicks in and your body starts adjusting to it. Some people might take longer than a few weeks to recover from this insomnia.

What does research suggest?

Researchers suggest that Zoloft can cause insomnia in some people, which could be much more intense during the early course of the treatment (1,2). 

Furthermore, clinical trials of patients treated with medication like Zoloft showed a prevalence of 17% in treatment-emergent insomnia when compared with placebo (9%)(3).

In fact, Zoloft was related to a decrease in total sleep time and increased nocturnal awakenings (1). Zoloft increases extremity movements during sleep, which could lead to fatigue and contribute to insomnia (2).

It is important to have regular check-ups with your doctor while undergoing treatment to ensure the condition doesn’t worsen. Your doctor will closely monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan to ensure your well-being.

How does Zoloft cause insomnia?

Zoloft causes insomnia because it affects your sleep architecture due to the mechanism of action (3). Zoloft, the antidepressant of concern here, increases the amount of active serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is an excitatory neurotransmitter that elevates mood, energy, and motivation (4). 

The deficiency of this chemical is considered the primary cause of depression. Now when you start taking Zoloft and your serotonin levels start to go high, your body may become alert, and the process of sleep may become disturbed as your brain continues to work overtime. 

This is expected to happen to new users or when your dose is increased. However, once your body is adjusted to this change, your sleep cycle gets back to normal.

Does everyone who takes Zoloft suffer from insomnia?

No, not everyone who takes Zoloft will experience insomnia as a side effect. Additionally, the severity of insomnia can vary from person to person.

Zoloft may cause sleepiness in some individuals, including deep sleep and snoring. This indicates that Zoloft can cause different side effects in different individuals.

It’s important to inform your healthcare provider about any side effects you experience. They can provide guidance on how to manage them, which may involve adjusting the dosage or switching to a different medication if insomnia continues or becomes severe.

Zoloft may interact with certain foods, drinks, and other medications, particularly caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee, energy drinks, and cola. 

This interaction can intensify the effects of caffeine, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, nausea, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. It’s advisable for individuals who consume large amounts of caffeine to be cautious when taking Zoloft to avoid these potential side effects (5).

Also, grapefruit juice can inhibit the metabolism of Zoloft and increase the amount of the drug in your body, leading to side effects (6,7).  

What to do if you suffer from Zoloft-induced insomnia?

If you suffer from insomnia, there are a few things which could help you get some relief. These include (8):

  • Take Zoloft early in the morning after you wake up. This way the side effect will be at minimum intensity when nighttime comes. However, if Zoloft makes you sleepy, do not take it before engaging in activities, like driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • If you are currently taking Zoloft in the evening or at night, discuss switching your antidepressant to the morning with your doctor.
  • Do not use any smart gadgets or be involved in any such activity before you go to bed.
  • Try some low-intensity exercises or stretching to prepare you for sleep.
  • Try turmeric with warm milk to help you sleep. 
  • Chamomile tea is also known to induce sleep and reduce anxiety. 
  • Try lavender aroma therapy by putting a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow.

These tips can help with insomnia to some extent. However, severe insomnia could be troublesome and you may need medications to keep it at bay. This is why it’s best to consult your mental healthcare professional and properly follow the directions. 


This brief article answered the question: “Does Zoloft cause insomnia temporarily?” and explained other factors contributing to this side effect. We have also discussed some important precautions to mitigate Zoloft-induced sleep disturbances. 

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Zhang B, Hao Y, Jia F, Li X, Ren Y, Zhou P, et al. Sertraline and periodic limb movements during sleep: An 8-week open-label study in depressed patients with insomnia. Sleep Med [Internet]. Elsevier B.V.; 2013;14(12):1405–12. Available from:


Wichniak A, Wierzbicka A, Walęcka M, Jernajczyk W. Effects of Antidepressants on Sleep. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 Aug 9;19(9):63. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0816-4. PMID: 28791566; PMCID: PMC5548844. Available from:


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Ueda N, Yoshimura R, Umene-Nakano W, Ikenouchi-Sugita A, Hori H, Hayashi K, et al. Grapefruit juice alters plasma sertraline levels after single ingestion of sertraline in healthy volunteers. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2009;10(4 PART 3):832–5. Available from:


NHS. Insomnia; [updated 2021 Mar 12; cited 2023 Jun 4]. Available from:

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