Seroquel (Quetiapine), is a second-generation antipsychotic medication, used in the treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and as an adjunct in the management of depression or generalized anxiety disorders. It belongs to the class of atypical antipsychotics.
Should Seroquel Be Used to Aid Sleep?
Due to its action on the brain, Seroquel can make you feel sleepy. Its blockade of the histamine H1 receptors is believed to account for this ability. However, Seroquel should not be used to induce or aid sleep as it can put you at risk of unnecessary harm.
Why You Should Not Take Seroquel for Sleep
1. It Is Not Approved For Sleep
The FDA approves the drugs released into the market. After reviewing data from standard clinical trials, the FDA approved Seroquel for the treatment of schizophrenia, major depressive disorders, and bipolar disorders, but NOT for sleep.
Though studies establish an association between Seroquel use and improved sleep quality, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the medication to be prescribed to induce sleep.
While an off-label prescription is legal, off-label marketing is not. In 2010, the US fined AstraZeneca, the company manufacturing Seroquel, for marketing Seroquel for off-label uses, which includes the management of sleeplessness.
2. Risk Of Metabolic Side Effects
The use of Seroquel carries a significant risk of development of metabolic abnormalities, though the exact mechanism is not known. Hence, even when prescribed appropriately, it is advisable to be regularly monitored to enable early detection of any abnormalities and prevent the development of complications.
A 2016 study also reported that the use of Seroquel even at low doses for sleep could result in negative metabolic consequences such as increased blood pressure, weight gain, increased body mass index, increased blood glucose and dyslipidemia.
The study concludes that the use of Seroquel as a medication for sleep or first-line therapy for insomnia should be avoided.
3. Side Effects Of Seroquel
Aside from the metabolic side effects, Seroquel has other side effects like:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Panic Attacks
- Worsened depression
- Extreme worry
- Irrational behavior
Using Seroquel to induce sleep already suggests that your health is not at its best. It is therefore not advisable to further complicate the condition by adding any of the above side effects.
4. Black Box Warning
The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has two black box warnings on Seroquel:
- People who have dementia should not use it. Dementia is a mental health condition that causes decreased memory, confused thinking, changes in mood and personality. People with dementia are at risk of death if placed on Seroquel.
- Seroquel increases the risk of suicidal thoughts especially for younger people under the age of 24.
These warnings suggest that the use of Seroquel, even when prescribed, should be with caution. Using the medication for uses not approved may put your health at risk in many ways.
Sleeping Without Seroquel
If you are considering using Seroquel for sleep, chances are you have been having issues getting a good night’s sleep. You can try some tips like:
- Turning off the lights at bedtime
- Avoiding the use of your mobile phone in bed
- Avoiding long daytime naps
- Making your bedroom comfortable and cozy
- Reducing work stress
- Limiting alcohol use and avoiding tobacco products
You should also see your doctor if you have sleep problems.
Because of the many undesirable effects of using Seroquel for sleep, you should discuss with your doctor about alternatives. There are alternative medications for first-line therapy of insomnia with better safety profiles and lesser risks when compared to Seroquel.