What is the role of sedating antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants in the management of insomnia?

Catherine McCall, William Vaughn McCall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

25 Scopus citations


Psychiatric medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants are commonly prescribed by physicians for the off-label use of improving sleep. Reasons for preferential prescription of these medications over FDA-approved insomnia drugs may include a desire to treat concurrent sleep problems and psychiatric illness with a single medication, and/or an attempt to avoid hypnotic drugs due to their publicized side effects. However, there have been few large studies demonstrating the efficacy and safety of most off-label medications prescribed to treat insomnia. In addition, many of these medications have significant known side effect profiles themselves. Here we review the pertinent research studies published in recent years on antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant medications frequently prescribed for sleep difficulties. Although there have been few large-scale studies for most of these medications, some may be appropriate in the treatment of sleep issues in specific well-defined populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-502
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2012



  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Comorbid insomnia
  • Hypnotics
  • Insomnia
  • Off-label
  • Psychiatry
  • SWS
  • Sleep disorders
  • Slow wave sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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