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Does Sudafed keep you awake? Is Sudafed OK before bed?

Does Sudafed keep you awake? Or is it safe to take a medication containing pseudoephedrine before bed? The unfortunate truth is no matter how effective certain medications might be, they can also often cause insomnia. Read on to learn how to avoid the jitters before bed, but still shrink your swollen nasal mucous membranes…

Sudafed is just one of the more common medications on the market today, which might interfere with your sleeping habits. Although there’s no guarantee taking this decongestant before bed will keep you awake, people who already have sleeping issues, may want to be wary. 

Click here if you want to know about other medications that cause insomnia.

Today, we’re going to look at why some people simply can’t sleep after taking Sudafed. We’ll let you know what you can do to reduce your risk of negative side effects with this medication. 

What is Sudafed?

Sudafed is the name of a common nasal decongestant. It comes as tablets and in liquid form. 

Nasal congestion happens when blood vessels in your sinuses become inflamed or swollen. Often, this happens when you’re dealing with issues like a sinus infection, the flu, or allergies. Sudafed contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, which works by causing vessels in the respiratory mucosa within the nose to shrink. 

Sudafed essentially opens your airways, so you can breathe easier when congested. 

Unfortunately, while pseudoephedrine is excellent at removing congestion, it also has a stimulatory effect on the body. It increases blood pressure and boosts norepinephrine levels. 

Norepinephrine, being similar to adrenaline, is one of the primary chemicals released by the brain to keep the body in an “aroused” state when preparing for the fight or flight response. For some people, this means taking Sudafed can cause feelings of alertness, which make sleep feel impossible. 

Why does Sudafed keep me awake?

There are several answers to the question: “Why does Sudafed keep you awake?” Not only is pseudoephedrine a stimulant, but it can also cause other various side effects. This may make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Around 30% of patients in a study said they experienced sleep issues when taking Sudafed. 

Some of the most common reasons Sudafed keep you awake include:

General stimulation of the sympathetic system
Pseudoephedrine can activate the sympathetic system, which has a direct impact on the regulation of your sleep-wake cycle. When this system is activated, it flushes the body with hormones and prepares you for stressful situations with increased heart rate and alertness.

Beta receptor stimulation 
By stimulating the beta receptors, pseudoephedrine can increase heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to feelings of hyperactivity, heart palpitations, and even angina in some people. 

Sickness and headaches
Some people who take Sudafed report side-effects of feeling restless, shaky, or nauseous. Headaches are also a common side effect of this medication. When you feel unwell, you might struggle to get to sleep more than usual. 

If you’re experiencing any negative side effects from Sudafed, including restlessness or trouble sleeping, seek medical advice before you continue your treatment. 

Does Sudafed keep you awake? Here’s what you can do

When medications like Sudafed cause insomnia and other side effects, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor. Your care provider will be able to assess your situation and determine whether another medication might be better-suited to your needs. 

If Sudafed is the best medication for you, your doctor can also advise you on ways to reduce the risk of side effects. One option is to start taking the medication in the morning, so you’re not as negatively influenced by the stimulatory side effects. In the evening you could simply use nasal spray with salt water. 

Sudafed usually starts affecting the body within 30 minutes of consumption and stays within your system for up to 8 hours. Timing your doses carefully can help to ensure any stimulant effects have worn off by the time you go to bed.

It’s also worth noting there are different kinds of Sudafed on the market. Immediate release Sudafed starts acting very shortly after administration, while extended-release Sudafed stays active within the body for between 12 and 24 hours. If the long-acting medication is having a negative impact on your sleep pattern, your doctor can try another variation.

Doctors can also advise taking Sudafed in combination with other medications to help you sleep.  Taking melatonin could help to promote more restful sleep for people taking Sudafed. Alternatively, your doctor could advise using a short-term antihistamine at the same time as your nasal decongestant. Antihistamines often have sedative properties, which can help to initiate sleep. 

Can’t sleep after Sudafed: Tips for better sleep when using Sudafed

Most patients will only be given Sudafed for a short period of time, during significant periods of treating nasal congestion. If you only take this medication for a short period, it’s unlikely you’ll have any long-lasting negative side effects. 

If you do need to take Sudafed more often than most, your doctor may recommend various strategies to improve your chances of a good night’s sleep, such as:

Improve your sleep hygiene
Take steps to boost your sleep hygiene by making your bedroom as comfortable as possible and removing anything from your room which might keep you awake (like noisy electronics). Following a routine before bed can help to relax the mind and get you in the right space for a good night’s sleep. 

Avoid smoking
Smoking can make congestion worse, which may increase your reliance on products like Sudafed. Smoking also has a stimulatory effect, similar to Sudafed. Reducing your intake of cigarettes will help you to get a better night’s sleep.

Reduce your exposure to stimulants
Avoid any stimulants which might exacerbate the effects of Sudafed. This includes caffeine tablets, energy drinks, coffee, and tea. Alcohol can also have a stimulatory effect on your system and further damage your sleeping habits.

Drink plenty of water
When taking Sudafed and other medications which might negatively impact your sleep, it’s helpful to drink plenty of water. This will help to flush the remaining medication out of your system faster, so it’s less likely to influence your sleep. 

Try hot baths and showers
Taking a hot bath or shower before bed is a great way to open up the sinuses and reduce congestion. Then you’re less likely to need to use Sudafed before sleep. As part of a nightly routine, a hot bath can also help you to relax for sleep. 

You could also consider alternative treatment options for your congestion issues. For instance, a warm compress applied to the forehead and nose can help to open the sinuses and reduce swelling. Some people also find it helpful to use nasal irrigation products, or humidifiers to soothe the sinuses when you’re struggling with congestion. 

Experimenting with different strategies, from inhaling steam, to taking a hot bath to help clear your airways, could allow you to find new ways of curing your ailments without medication.

Can Sudafed keep me awake at night? The verdict

There are a lot of medications which can have a negative impact on your sleeping patterns. Because it contains pseudoephedrine, which stimulates your nervous system and boosts alertness, Sudafed can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult. The fact is about one in three people find it difficult to sleep after Sudafed. 

However, it’s important to remember that just because some people have trouble sleeping when taking Sudafed, doesn’t mean everyone will. Your doctor will assess the potential side effects associated with any medication carefully before prescribing it to you, but if you think there may be reasons why you’re more likely to have issues like insomnia, discuss these with your care provider beforehand.

For instance, it’s often a good idea to avoid Sudafed when you’re taking certain drugs, like steroids, which can further heighten alertness and cause insomnia. 

If your doctor does advise you to take Sudafed, make sure you follow the instructions they give you carefully. Don’t take an extra dose if you miss one, and make sure you only continue to take the medication for as long as advised. This will help to keep your risk of side effects to a minimum.

If you’re in the unfortunate situation of being addicted to Sudafed, the only solution is often to go on to a prescription nasal spray for a while. 

Managing Sudafed side effects

If Sudafed keeps you awake at night, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor. Most of the time, they’ll advise following simple sleep hygiene practices, and taking your medication earlier in the day, when it’s less likely to cause unwanted side effects. 

You can also try natural solutions like steam with peppermint oil, salt water nose spray or applying a compress to the area. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to consider taking a different medication entirely. 

Siestio. Sleep Matters.

Medical disclaimer
You must not rely on the information provided on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professionals. For more information read our full disclaimer here.

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