Depression Home > Trazodone as a Sleep Aid

Occasionally, healthcare providers may recommend trazodone as a sleep aid to help people with insomnia. Drowsiness is a common side effect of the medication, and although it can be bothersome for some people, it can help those with insomnia to sleep better. Since risks are associated with antidepressant use, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using trazodone as a sleep aid.

Trazodone as a Sleep Aid: An Overview

Trazodone hydrochloride (Desyrel®) is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of depression (also known as major depression or clinical depression). However, it is also often used "off-label" as a sleep aid, even though it is not approved for this use.

Can Trazodone Be Used as a Sleep Aid?

Trazodone is a sedating antidepressant, which means that it is likely to cause drowsiness. In fact, drowsiness is one of the most common trazodone side effects. In clinical studies, up to 40.8 percent of people reported drowsiness as a side effect. While side effects are usually bothersome, they can sometimes be beneficial for certain people. For example, the drowsiness effect of trazodone can be helpful for people who have insomnia.
Trazodone is especially useful as a sleep aid in people with depression, since it is effective for both insomnia and depression. Conversely, some antidepressants are likely to cause insomnia, even when taken in the morning. Trazodone can be used to treat insomnia caused by other antidepressant medications.

What Does "Off-Label" Mean?

When trazodone is used as a sleep aid, it is considered an off-label use. An "off-label" use is when a prescription medicine is used to treat a disease or condition for which the drug has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although the FDA regulates how a medication can be advertised or promoted by the manufacturer, these regulations do not restrict a healthcare provider's ability to prescribe the medication in an off-label fashion: for different conditions, in different doses, or for different lengths of time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine for off-label use if he or she feels that it is appropriate for your situation.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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