Don’t Yawn the Day Away. Check Your Meds!

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We all have days when we’d like to pause for some midday shut-eye. But if your sleepy days have become the norm, look to your medicine cabinet for a possible cause.  

Feeling drowsy, groggy or fatigued are side effects of many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. Some drugs may be OK on their own, but cause fatigue when combined with others. And then there are drugs that cause you to stay awake for long periods, such as amphetamines, but make you sleepy when their effectiveness wears off.

If you’re on medication for any reason and find yourself sleepier than usual, it’s important to find out why.

Sleepy Can Be Dangerous 

Sleepiness is a side effect that can have serious consequences, like: 

  • Reducing your productivity 
  • Lowering your awareness and ability to stay safe 
  • Increasing your risk of an accident at work, on the road and in the home 

These Medications are Known to Cause Sleepiness

Name of drug What it treats
Alpha-adrenergic blockers and Beta-adrenergic blockers High blood pressure
Antibiotics Infections (or to prevent infections) caused by bacteria
Antidepressants Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, chronic pain, etc.
Antiemetics Nausea and vomiting
Antihistamines Allergies, common cold, motion sickness
Antipsychotics Serious psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) Anxiety, agitation, muscle spasms, seizures
Diuretics (water pills) High blood pressure, glaucoma, edema
Dopamine agonists Parkinson’s disease
Muscle relaxers Sore muscles
Proton pump inhibitors Reflux, GERD
Statins and fibrates High cholesterol
If you’re on medication for any reason and find yourself sleepier than usual, it’s important to find out why.

Steps You Can Take

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If fighting grogginess or fatigue has become routine for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. There may be replacement drugs available without a sleepy side effect. Or the solution may be as simple as adjusting the dose, avoiding alcohol, or taking a drug at a different time of the day. 

Approach your doctor or pharmacist with: 

  • A complete list of your medications and their dosage  
  • Include any over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbs that you take 
  • Be confident that a solution for your sleepiness will be found!
Small Steps: Choose decaf after dinner.
If you want to increase your chances for a good night’s sleep, skip the caffeine and go for a cup of decaf coffee or tea after dinner.