Does Zoloft cause sleepwalking? (3+ factors at play)

In this article, we will discuss whether Zoloft (sertraline) causes sleepwalking. We will also discuss some research studies and factors that can contribute to this side effect. 

Does Zoloft cause sleepwalking?

Zoloft, also known as sertraline, may cause sleepwalking in some individuals. Sleepwalking is not considered a typical side effect of Zoloft, and you might not find it listed as a side effect (1,2). However, people are different and can respond differently to medications. 

Zoloft can affect sleeping patterns and overall sleep architecture in some people, potentially leading to episodes of sleepwalking. However, not everyone taking Zoloft experiences this side effect, and patient-specific factors can be at play here. 

It is also important to note that people might have underlying, undiagnosed health conditions that could cause sleepwalking, and their Zoloft might have nothing to do with this. 

It is best to reach out to your doctor if you have experienced episodes of sleepwalking or if you think this antidepressant is negatively affecting your health.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on sleepwalking associated with sertraline, the active drug in Zoloft, and it is not a common or frequently reported side effect. 

One research study focused on medication-induced sleepwalking and indicated that antidepressants, especially serotonergic medications, can cause sleepwalking in some individuals (3). 

However, the study concluded that Zolpidem and other typical hypnotics are most commonly associated with nocturnal wandering (3).

Some research studies have indicated that sertraline can affect sleep architecture and cause parasomnia (4). However, eye movements are more commonly reported with SSRIs, and sleepwalking is not frequently reported. 

Research also suggests that sertraline can affect both rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement in some cases, leading to potential side effects like sleepwalking (5).

What factors can contribute to sleepwalking while taking Zoloft?

Several factors can contribute to sleepwalking while taking Zoloft, including: 

  • Higher doses of Zoloft may have more pronounced effects on sleep, potentially increasing the likelihood of sleepwalking.
  • Certain health conditions, such as migraines or sleep deprivation, can act as triggers for sleepwalking, and when combined with Zoloft, may exacerbate this side effect.
  • Engaging in alcohol or substance abuse can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to sleepwalking episodes. Combining these activities with Zoloft may further increase the chances of sleepwalking.
  • Genetic factors can play a role in sleepwalking tendencies. If sleepwalking runs in the family, such individuals may have a higher chance of developing this side effect.
  • Concurrent use of medications, especially hypnotics or other drugs that affect sleep, may increase your chances of sleepwalking (3).

Some drugs that are linked to sleepwalking include:

DrugsLikelihood of Sleepwalking
Zolpidem (Ambien)Common
Eszopiclone (Lunesta)Common
Zaleplon (Sonata)Less Common
Trazodone (Desyrel) Less Common
Amitriptyline (Elavil)Less Common
Olanzapine (Zyprexa)Rare
Ropinirole (Requip)Rare

What to do if Zoloft causes sleepwalking?

If Zoloft is causing you to sleepwalk, please discuss this with your healthcare provider. Although it is not common for sertraline to cause this side effect, individuals may respond differently to medications, and factors like concurrent use of other medications, such as sleeping pills, could contribute to sleepwalking. 

Your provider will carefully evaluate your medication history and guide you accordingly. If your current treatment regimen, including Zoloft, is associated with sleepwalking, your doctor may adjust the dose or consider alternative treatment strategies. 

If you are involved in substance abuse or alcoholism, appropriate treatment options, including rehabilitation, may be suggested for recovery.

If no other factors contribute to this side effect and Zoloft is the only medication you take, your doctor may consider adjusting the dose and monitoring your response. However, if Zoloft is not the right choice for you, your doctor may safely taper it off and switch you to a different antidepressant.

What are the alternatives to Zoloft if it causes sleepwalking?

There are various alternatives to Zoloft, such as:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): Effexor, Cymbalta
  • Atypical Antidepressants: Wellbutrin, Remeron
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: Elavil
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Selegiline, Rasagiline

The choice of antidepressants should only be made by a qualified healthcare provider, and the switching strategy depends on the specific antidepressant you’re transitioning to. 

It’s crucial not to stop taking Zoloft or switch to a different antidepressant without consulting your doctor. Other SSRIs may cause similar side effects, so your doctor might consider switching to a different class. 

As a pharmacist, I always advise my patients to adhere to the prescribed medication and doses. If your current antidepressant is not the best choice, switching is a common process guided by your doctor’s expertise. Avoid making changes to your treatment plan independently.


  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  1. Stallman HM, Kohler M, White J. Medication-induced sleepwalking: A systematic review. Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Feb;37:105-113. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2017.01.005. Epub 2017 Jan 29. PMID: 28363449. 
  1. Kierlin L, Littner MR. Parasomnias and antidepressant therapy: a review of the literature. Front Psychiatry. 2011 Dec 12;2:71. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2011.00071. PMID: 22180745; PMCID: PMC3235766. 
  1. Jindal RD, Friedman ES, Berman SR, Fasiczka AL, Howland RH, Thase ME. Effects of sertraline on sleep architecture in patients with depression. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2003 Dec;23(6):540-8. doi: 10.1097/ PMID: 14624183. 

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