Answered by:
Stuart D. Federman, PharmD, AAHIVP
Gateway Apothecary
Saint Louis, MO

There are many factors that can affect the sleeping habits of patients with HIV. Remember that falling asleep and staying asleep are not the same problem. I recommend to patients who are having trouble sleeping to first try using “sleep hygiene” as a way of not having to take more medications. I usually hand out a form to patients that they are able to take home with them to refer to later.

The best way to tackle treating insomnia is to try to find out all the causes. If it is stress or depression, a psychiatrist or talking to someone may be able to help reduce wakefulness. If the problems are not able to be talked through, an antidepressant medication (like Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa) can help over time. There are other medications like trazodone that work in a different way to help with sleep. Other medications that are commonly prescribed for sleep are: Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone) and Restoril (temazepam).

Most over-the-counter sleep aids contain Benadryl (diphenhydramine) in them and a 50mg dose can be used to induce sleep. Talk to your HIV doctor or pharmacist for more suggestions.

Additional writing by Amanda Wong, student pharmacist at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.