Some people have already heard about using clonidine for sleep, but this medication is traditionally used to treat other health conditions. For one, it's commonly prescribed for those with high blood pressure or children who have ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome. FDA hasn't approved clonidine's use for treating insomnia just yet, but in this article, we discuss the benefits and potential side effects that this drug could have on your sleep quality.
Clonidine is a medication that is typically prescribed for high blood pressure.
It is also sometimes prescribed for anxiety and ADHD in children.
One side effect of clonidine is that it can cause sleepiness and it is sometimes prescribed to help children who have hyperactivity disorders (such as ADHD).
Clonidine doses vary depending on age, form of the medication, and the condition that is being treated.
Although clonidine can help with sleep, this is not a typical reason why it is prescribed.
What is clonidine?
Clonidine is an anti-hypertensive medication that can be prescribed to treat high blood pressure. It has also been studied for its use in treating psychiatric conditions like ADHD. Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to children who have ADHD and struggle with insomnia to help them sleep.
How does clonidine work?
Clonidine works to lower blood pressure by reducing the heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels. When used to treat ADHD, clonidine affects the part of the brain that controls attention and impulsivity.
Clonidine for better sleep – does it help?
Some studies have looked at the effect that clonidine can have on sleep. One study found that the effects of clonidine on sleep were incredibly dose dependent. Lower doses of clonidine were found to increase REM sleep and decrease non-REM sleep, while a medium dose actually had the opposite effect.
Clonidine is commonly given to children with ADHD to help with hyperactivity. It is also sometimes used to help children who have sleep disturbances due to their hyperactivity disorder.
Although it isn’t typically prescribed for the purpose of helping with sleep, clonidine may help improve sleep quality in some cases. You should only use a medication for the purpose it was prescribed for. Talk with your doctor about whether clonidine is a good option for you.
How long does clonidine last for sleep?
The effects of clonidine typically last for 12 to 16 hours. Clonidine comes in different forms including immediate release and extended release. An extended release tablet will take longer to take effect.
Clonidine dosing varies depending on the following:
- Condition it is prescribed for;
- Age of the patient (younger children will be on a different dose then teens and adults);
- Form of the medication (clonidine is available as a tablet or transdermal patch);
- Whether it is extended release or immediate release.
Your doctor will determine the proper clonidine dosage for your specific condition, whether it be sleep, hypertension, or anxiety. They may start with a lower dose and adjust it as needed depending on how your body responds to it.
|Condition||Recommended clonidine dose|
|ADHD||0.1 mg/day for teenagers and children (6 years old and older)|
|High blood pressure||0.17 mg or 2 ml once per day for adults|
|Sleep issues||Traditionally not prescribed for sleep, check with your doctor|
Clonidine dosage for sleep
Clonidine use for sleep is not approved by FDA and there's no recommended dosage. However, one study examined the effects of clonidine on children for sleep and used a dosage ranging from 0.05 to 0.8 mg. Despite this, you should always consult your pediatrician beforehand.
Clonidine side effects
Side effects are possible when taking clonidine for sleep. Many people consider sleepiness as a positive side effect of clonidine when they’re taking it for a condition (like anxiety) that also happens to interfere with sleep. Side effects of clonidine can be mild or more severe.
Common mild side effects of clonidine include:
- Dry eyes and mouth;
- Stomach discomfort;
More severe side effects of clonidine include:
- Fainting spells;
- Chest pain;
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
- Increased heart rate;
- A drop in blood pressure.
If you experience side effects from clonidine, your doctor may need to reduce your dosage. If you are experiencing severe side effects, seek medical care right away.
Clonidine interactions with other drugs
If you are taking other medications, it is important to exercise caution and talk with your doctor before taking clonidine. It is possible that clonidine could interact with other medications or supplements that you’re taking. Some other medications that may interact with clonidine include: melatonin, Benadryl, Remeron, trazodone, and gabapentin.
Melatonin and clonidine
Taking melatonin along with clonidine may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. If you take these medications together, you should avoid activities that require mental alertness such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
Clonidine and Benadryl for sleep
When taken together, clonidine and Benadryl can cause the blood pressure to lower significantly which can cause side effects such as headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting.
Remeron and clonidine
Taking Remeron with clonidine may reduce the effects of clonidine. If you are taking clonidine to lower your blood pressure and taking remeron as well, your doctor may want to monitor your blood pressure more closely to ensure that it does not remain high or become dangerously high.
Trazodone and clonidine
Trazodone can also interact with clonidine. These medications when taken together can cause headache, dizziness, fainting, and changes in the heart rate.
Clonidine and gabapentin
Gabapentin and clonidine when taken together can cause an increase in side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and poor concentration. These two medications can also cause impairments in thinking, poor judgment, and poor motor coordination.
Can clonidine help with anxiety?
Yes, clonidine has been found to help with anxiety disorders. It can help to decrease anxiety attacks and other symptoms. The clonidine dosage for anxiety will vary depending on a variety of factors but it may range anywhere from 0.1 mg to 2.0 mg per day.
Alternatives to Clonidine
Whether you are taking clonidine for sleep, anxiety, or high blood pressure, there may be other medications you can try to produce similar results. Some medications that have effects that are similar to clonidine include:
- Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ);
Why are you experiencing insomnia and what to do about it?
Sleep issues can really interfere with your day-to-day life. You may be able to get a handle on some of your sleep issues by making simple lifestyle adjustments. Some examples include: getting a healthy sleep schedule, taking natural supplements, and treating any underlying health conditions.
Get a healthy sleep schedule
Healthy sleep schedules can really improve sleep quality. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour and stick to a consistent bedtime each night. Ensure that you have a calm sleep environment that is dark and quiet.
Use natural supplements
Some natural supplements may be able to help with sleep such as melatonin, valerian root, magnesium, and lavender.
Treat medical conditions that cause sleeping difficulties
Sometimes underlying health conditions interfere with sleep. If you have any health issues then treating these can help improve your sleep. Talk with your doctor about any health conditions that could be interfering with your sleep and what you can do to treat them.
How long does it take for clonidine to work for sleep?
Clonidine can take up to 60 minutes to start working. It is recommended to take clonidine 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
How much clonidine should children take?
Clonidine doses vary based on age. Talk with your doctor for dosing instructions.
Can clonidine be used daily?
For sleep issues, Clonidine is often prescribed to be taken daily. Follow your provider's recommendations for dosing.
- Mayo Clinic Clonidine (Oral Route) Proper Use
- National Library of Medicine Clonidine effects on all-night human sleep: opposite action of low- and medium-dose clonidine on human NREM-REM sleep proportion.
- National Library of Medicine Clonidine for sleep disturbances associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic chart review of 62 cases.
- National Library of Medicine Clonidine for the Treatment of Psychiatric Conditions and Symptoms: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness, Safety, and Guidelines
- JAMA Psychiatry Effects of Clonidine on Anxiety Disorders