Does Zoloft (Sertraline) Cause Insomnia?

Zoloft (sertraline) is well known to cause insomnia and other related side effects, but there are strategies to lessen the severity.


Zoloft (sertraline) and insomnia... how common is this and when does it go away? I fall asleep easily but wake between 3 and 5 every night (and can’t fall back asleep) leaving me sleep deprived. My psych doctor says it’s a side effect so will not give me anything for it.

Asked by Maria On Sep 23, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Sep 23, 2018

Zoloft (sertraline) is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is most commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders (1). Zoloft, and all SSRI medications, are associated with several commonly occurring side effects, which include (2, 3):

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Activation/insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Neurological effects (e.g. exacerbate headaches, anxiety)
  • Increased risk of falls
  • Weight fluctuations

Most studies note that all medications in the SSRI class have comparable tolerability and side effects. Nevertheless, they all have varying pharmacokinetic profiles (e.g. metabolism, drug interactions etc...) which can influence how a particular medication is tolerated.

Zoloft And Insomnia

According to the prescribing information for Zoloft (sertraline), insomnia occurs in 16% of individuals taking the medication and it appears to be dose related (meaning higher doses increase the risk of the side effect occurring) (1).

Related side effects include:

  • Tremor (11% incidence)
  • Agitation (6% incidence)
  • Psychomotor hyperactivity (<2% incidence)

If you are experiencing side effects from Zoloft, initial strategies generally do not include the addition of medication to mitigate them.

More commonly, the initial strategies include:

  • Take Zoloft early in the morning, as opposed to the evening.
  • Lower the dose.

If the above strategies are not effective, it may be necessary to add on a sleep medication, such as melatonin or a prescription sedative-hypnotic. Additionally, following good sleep hygiene practices can be effective.

In many cases, side effects tend to be most pronounced when therapy is first initiated or when doses are increased but they tend to decrease over time.

Nevertheless, if issues with insomnia continue to occur, even after changing administration time, lowering the dose or adding on adjudicative medication, it may be beneficial to switch to another antidepressant (within the same class or to another class).

It is important to let your doctor know of any side effects you are experiencing and discuss a treatment plan that includes what to do if your problems with insomnia do not subside.

Information About Zoloft

Zoloft (sertraline) (pronounced SER tra leen) is FDA approved to treat:

  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Social Phobia

Zoloft is classified as a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) and works by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain as well as changing the balance of serotonin receptors.

Zoloft may be taken without regard to meals in the morning or evening. Like many antidepressants, full effects of the drug may not be realized until you have been on it for at least 6-8 weeks.

Final Words

Insomnia is a common side effect of Zoloft. There are several strategies that can be utilized to mitigate the side effect but for some individuals, it may not be able to be completely eliminated. If this is the case in your situation, talk to your doctor regarding your options.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

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