Zoloft or sertraline is an antidepressant medication and a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). A possible side effect of Zoloft is insomnia.

SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

This can help improve a person’s depression symptoms as serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. However, increasing serotonin levels can also affect sleep.

This article explains whether Zoloft can cause insomnia and lists the other side effects of the medication. We also detail how to manage insomnia and when a person with insomnia may wish to contact a doctor.

A person lying in bed experiencing insomnia, which may be due to zoloft antidepressant medication.Share on Pinterest
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Yes, insomnia is one of the most common side effects of the medication Zoloft. Zoloft is the brand name for the antidepressant sertraline.

However, this is one of the side effects that will most likely improve after a few weeks of taking the medication.

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes a person to not get enough sleep to function efficiently during the day.

A person with insomnia may experience:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • difficulty staying asleep
  • waking up too early in the morning

Learn more about sleeping difficulties.

Many antidepressant drugs can cause problems with a person’s sleep. These include:

These drugs activate the serotonin receptors in the brain. They also cause increased noradrenergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission.

By changing the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, Zoloft and other antidepressants can impact a person’s sleep and cause insomnia.

The medication Zoloft is generally a safe medication. However, in some cases, Zoloft may cause several different side effects.

Common side effects

As well as insomnia, other common side effects of taking Zoloft include:

These more common side effects will often improve over the first few weeks of taking the medication.

However, some common sexual side effects may not improve over time. These include problems with orgasm or ejaculation.

Rare side effects

Other rare side effects of Zoloft may be more serious. These include:

  • Hyponatremia: Hyponatremia is the name for low sodium levels in the bloodstream. It can cause a person to experience headaches, weakness, fatigue, nausea, and irritability.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma: This medical emergency occurs when the pressure inside the eye suddenly increases. Symptoms of this side effect include eye pain, changes in vision, and swelling or redness in and around the eye. A person should receive immediate medical care if they experience this side effect, as it may cause them to lose their sight.
  • Serotonin syndrome: Serotonin syndrome occurs when medications cause a person to produce too much serotonin. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include shivering, diarrhea, confusion, severe muscle tightness, fevers, and seizures. It can be a potentially life threatening side effect of Zoloft.
  • Increased bleeding events: SSRIs such as Zoloft may cause a person to experience increased bleeding events. This can include gums that bleed more easily, more frequent nose bleeds, and gastrointestinal bleeding. In some cases, these side effects may be life threatening.

Learn more about the side effects of Zoloft.

Insomnia is rarely an isolated medical or mental illness. It most commonly occurs as a symptom of another illness. It may also occur due to a person’s lifestyle or work schedule.

If a person takes Zoloft and it causes them to experience insomnia, they may wish to try and manage their insomnia symptoms to improve their sleep.

Below are several things a person may wish to consider to manage their insomnia.

Different dosages

If a person takes Zoloft and it causes them to experience insomnia, they may wish to reduce their dosage. However, a person should always consult with a healthcare professional before adjusting their dosage of Zoloft.

Different medications

Switching medications to a different type of antidepressant may help people manage their insomnia.

Again, a person should always consult a healthcare professional before switching medications.

Learn more about antidepressant withdrawal.

Practicing good sleeping habits

Good sleep habits can help a person achieve better sleep. In some cases, people refer to these sleep habits as sleep hygiene.

Good sleep habits can include:

  • Maintaining a regular sleep schedule: This includes going to bed and aiming to wake up around the same time every day, including on weekends.
  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment: A person may wish to ensure their bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature when they go to bed.
  • Avoid using electrical devices before bed: A person may wish to avoid using electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, before they go to bed. It may be a good idea to remove these items from the bedroom.
  • Avoid certain foods before bedtime: This includes avoiding eating large meals right before bed. A person may also wish to avoid caffeine and alcohol before they go to bed.

Getting more regular exercise

Research suggests that regular exercise can help improve the symptoms of insomnia.

One meta-analysis looked at nine studies with a total of 557 participants. It concluded that regular exercise could help improve sleep quality in people with insomnia without any notable adverse effects.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that it associates regular exercise with improved sleep quality. The NAMI adds that a person should talk with their healthcare professional about which exercises may work for them.

Reducing alcohol intake

Alcohol may feel like it causes a relaxing effect. However, people who consume large amounts of alcohol often experience poor sleep quality.

A 2021 study looked at the effect of alcohol on the sleep quality of night and day workers. It concluded that alcohol consumption harms sleep quality, particularly among night workers.

If a person is experiencing insomnia, they may wish to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume. This may improve some of their insomnia symptoms.

Stopping smoking

Smoking may increase a person’s risk of developing insomnia.

One 2021 study stated that smoking increased insomnia severity and shortened sleep duration. Nightly smoking further increases a person’s risk of these adverse effects.

People experiencing insomnia may wish to stop smoking to help manage their condition.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a method of therapy that works on the premise that how people think and interpret events can affect how they behave and feel.

A CBT therapist can help a person explore and develop methods to deal with their challenges and behaviors.

CBT can help a person manage or let go of negative thoughts and worries that may be contributing to their insomnia.

NAMI states that if a person takes Zoloft and experiences the following side effects, they should contact their doctor:

  • anxiety
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • aggressiveness
  • insomnia

Zoloft is the brand name for the antidepressant medication sertraline. This is a type of SSRI, and a possible side effect of Zoloft is insomnia.

These medications increase the serotonin in the brain, which can help treat the symptoms of depression.

A person can manage their insomnia by switching medications or changing their dose.

They may also want to practice good sleep habits, exercise regularly, reduce their alcohol intake, and stop smoking.