CITALOPRAM AND SLEEP (3 main effects)

This blogspot will answer the question “how citalopram affects sleep?”. It will be based on the topics the effect of citalopram on sleep, the effect of citalopram on sleep cycle and ways to cope up with the adverse effects of citalopram on sleep cycle.

How citalopram affects sleep?

Citalopram is an antidepressant that belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class of drugs. It works by enhancing the serontoning activity at the postsynaptic receptors. A large number of serotonin receptor subtypes are involved in the sleep-wake cycle regulation. The action of serotonin receptors in regulating sleep is complex. Thus as citalopram modulates the serotonin activity at the brain receptors it immensely affects the sleep regulation and produces strong effects on the sleep wake cycle of humans.

What is the effect of citalopram on sleep?

Citalopram tends to produce the following effects on sleep:

  • Citalopram produces increased sleep onset latency among humans
  • Citalopram produces Increased numbers of awakenings and arousals among humans
  • Citalopram leads to decreased sleep efficiency among humans
  • Citalopram disturbs the Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep among humans
  • Citalopram tends to produce a change in the intensity, frequency and content of dreams among humans.
  • Citalopram produces insomnia among humans.
  • Citalopram often leads to daytime somnolence among humans.

The impact of citalopram on sleep has been an area of interest for clinical and research practitioners for long. Richelson (1996) studied the effect of citalopram on the postsynaptic neurotransmitters and determined its role in sleep regulation as an activity of serotonin receptor subtypes. Findings suggested regulation of sleep and wakefulness to be modulated through serotonin receptors. 

Further, decreased quality of sleep is another adverse effect of citalopram on the sleep cycle of humans. Rush et al (1998) and SHarpley et al (1996) concluded that being a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, citalopram leads to an overall increase in sleep efficiency of humans.

Beasley, Sayler, Weiss and Potvin (1992) suggested that somnolence often results due to intake of antidepressants specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, citalopram and fluoxetine. Somnolence tends to produce a feeling of lethargy, dizziness and drowsiness. This is further relatable to the insomnia at night that is het another adverse effect of Citalopram.

The relationship between disturbed sleep pattern and citalopram intake among humans has also been highlighted by Thompson (2002). The study findings suggested insomnia and daytime somnolence to be the frequently reported symptoms among depressed patients undergoing treatment through citalopram and fluoxetine. 

What is the effect of citalopram on the rapid eye movement and non rapid eye movement stage of sleep cycle?

Research has greatly supported the evidence for the effect of citalopram on sleep cycle stages of rapid eye movement (REM) and non rapid eye movement (N-REM). 

Neckelmann, Bjorvatn, Bjorkum & Ursin (1996) highlighted the impact of citalopram on the sleep cycle of humans. The research findings suggested that the single doses of citalopram resulted in dose dependent inhibition of the rapid eye movement stage of sleep cycle among the participants. Chronic treatment with citalopram among the participants lead to a sustained inhibition of rapid eye movement stage of sleep cycle among the participants. 

However only minor changes were observed in the non rapid eye movement stage of the sleep cycle due to the single dose administration of citalopram.

How citalopram disturbs the sleep cycle?

The changes in sleep cycle due to citalopram intake are because of the modulation of serotonergic transmission across the neurotransmitters. This change in the sleep wake cycle is usually related to the antidepressant effect of the drug.

How to overcome the sleep disturbance caused by citalopram? 

The insomnia and somnolence caused by citalopram during the course of treatment can be managed by administering a sleeping aid pill and managing the timing of citalopram intake so that it does not majorly interfere with sleep routine.

Jernajczyk, Sobańska, Wierzbicka, Wichniak and Szatkowska (2006) conducted a study on the therapy of primary insomnia with citalopram. The research findings suggested that a relatively low dose (5 mg – 10 mg) instead of 40 mg dose in the morning hours can be an effective way to treat insomnia. 


The blogpsot discussed the effect of citalopram on the sleep pattern of humans. We learned that citalopram has adverse effects on the quality and quantity of sleep among humans. It decreases the sleep efficiency, disturbs the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, produces insomnia and daytime somnolence. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) : Citalopram and Sleep

Does citalopram affect sleep?

Yes , citalopram has a significant impact on sleep. It leads to insomnia and daytime somnolence among depressed patients. It reduces the rapid eye movement sleep cycle.

Is it better to take citalopram at night?

No, it is not better to take citalopram at night as it disturbs the sleep pattern and affects the quality of sleep. 

What is the best antidepressant for insomnia?

The two best antidepressants with sedative qualities that can help treat depression are :

Can citalopram keep you awake at night?

Yes, due to its strong tendency of effecting the sleep regulation, citalopram can keep a person completely or partially awake at night depending upon the dose of the drug being administered and the time of drug intake.


  • D. Neckelmann, B. Bjorvatn, A.A. Bjørkum, R. Ursin, Citalopram: differential sleep/wake and EEG power spectrum effects after single dose and chronic administration, Behavioural Brain Research, Volume 79, Issues 1–2, 1996, Pages 183-192.
  • Richelson E. Synaptic effects of antidepressants. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1996;16(3 suppl 2):1S-9S
  • Beasley CM Jr, Sayler ME, Weiss AM, Potvin JH. Fluoxetine: activating and sedating effects at multiple fixed doses. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1992;12:328-333
  • Rush AJ, Armitage R, Gillin JC, et al. Comparative effects of nefazodone and fluoxetine on sleep in outpatients with major depressive disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 1998;44:3-14.
  • Sharpley AL, Williamson DJ, Attenburrow ME, et al. The effects of paroxetine and nefazodone on sleep: a placebo controlled trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996;126:50-54.
  • ernajczyk W, Sobańska A, Wierzbicka A, Wichniak A, Szatkowska E. The therapy of primary insomnia with citalopram. J Sleep Res. 2006;15(Suppl. 1):154.
  • Thompson C. Onset of action of antidepressants: results of different analyses. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2002;17(Suppl 1):S27–S32. doi: 10.1002/hup.386.