We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Connection between Amitriptyline and Sleep?

By Emily Daw
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The connection between amitriptyline and sleep is that amitriptyline increases levels of chemicals in such a way that often allows people to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer. Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant drug that is sometimes used as a sleeping aid for people with insomnia, or trouble sleeping. Using amitriptyline for insomnia is considered an "off-label" treatment. In other words, amitriptyline has not been specifically approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat sleep disorders, but it is generally considered a safe course of treatment that is effective for at least some patients.

Like most antidepressants, amitriptyline works by increasing the level of certain chemicals in the brain responsible for producing feelings of happiness. In the case of amitriptyline, the chemicals, or neurotransmitters, effected are serotonin and norepinephrine. Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline have largely been replaced by more modern drugs that produce similar results, but with fewer side effects.

Amitriptyline and sleep are related in that depression and insomnia often go hand in hand. The exact reasons for this are not known, but there is some evidence that increased wakefulness leads to more serotonin production. If this is the case, insomnia may be the body's way of treating depression on its own. Amitriptyline or other antidepressants may reduce the body's need to produce serotonin through wakefulness. Whatever the reason, some patients are able to take amitriptyline and sleep through the night more easily than if they had not taken it.

One reason amitriptyline may be preferred to other insomnia treatments is that it remains in the body longer than most over-the-counter sleep aids. Its half-life — the amount of time that it takes for half of the medicine to be processed in the body — is about 12 to 24 hours, as compared to anywhere from less than two hours to nine hours for similar medications. This makes amitriptyline a good option for people with early-waking insomnia, a condition in which the patient is usually able to fall asleep in a reasonable amount of time, but is unable to stay asleep.

On the other hand, the connection between amitriptyline and sleep is weak enough in some patients to be ineffective. It may also have side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness in the morning. Patients seeking treatment for insomnia should discuss all potential risks and benefits with a doctor or pharmacist.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Nov 04, 2013

For a medication that wasn't even made for insomnia in the first place, amitriptyline is pretty good. It does cause a lot of drowsiness in the morning though. It doesn't wear off quickly.

By ddljohn — On Nov 03, 2013

@ZipLine-- I don't think that any medication can cure insomnia altogether. If something works relatively well with few side effects, I think that's the best we can hope for.

Amitriptyline works quite well for me. I get a good night's sleep on it. My insomnia is triggered by stress and I think that amitriptyline works because it's very relaxing. If the cause of insomnia is different, it might not work as well.

I think you need to talk to your doctor about your experience with amitriptyline. Adjusting the dose might be helpful.

By ZipLine — On Nov 03, 2013

I've been on amitriptyline for insomnia for a few months now. I can't say that it's a wonder drug. It does help me fall asleep and I get about three hours before waking up again. This is better than before though, when I was literally not getting any sleep. I would dose off for fifteen or twenty minutes at most.

So I am glad that I'm on amitriptyline and getting better sleep, but I'm still not where I would like to be. My goal is five or six hours of undisturbed sleep without a lot of drowsiness or grogginess in the morning. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to get it on this medication.

My search for a cure continues.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.