Using antihistamines as a sleep aid

  • Fahad Alshahrani

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Background: Approximately 8.9% of the Australian population aged 20 years and over experience a sleep disorder. Many treatments are used for the treatment of sleep disorders including antihistamines, available without a prescription. Few studies have investigated the usage of antihistamine sleep aids and their efficacy. Objectives: The aims of this study were to determine the:  characteristics of patients requesting antihistamines as sleep aids; and  usage and perceived efficacy of antihistamine therapy for insomnia in a sub-sample of the study population. Design: The study was based on a convenience sample of community pharmacy clients seeking an antihistamine product as a sleep aid in a community pharmacy. It was conducted in 7 community pharmacies around the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) metropolitan area. Participants were surveyed in two phases. The phase I survey was completed by clients recruited by the participating pharmacies whilst in the pharmacy. A more detailed phase II survey was administered by the researcher during a follow-up telephone call and assessed the effectiveness of the antihistamine and other factors related to causes of insomnia, such as caffeine, alcohol consumption and smoking status. Both questionnaires based on DSM-IV and ICSD criteria as well as the Insomnia Severity Index. Results Seventy-three participants completed the Pharmacy questionnaire with 48 agreeing to participate in the telephone follow-up survey. The population was predominantly female (n=47,63.5%). The likelihood of seeking treatment significantly increased with age, female gender, and smoking. Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep and frequent awakening also increased with increasing age. Participants with a lower education level were more likely to experience sleep problems. Herbal (52.1%) and non-prescription products (50.7%) had been used before receiving the antihistamine, indicating a lack of effect. Using antihistamine was associated with marked improvements in sleep parameters with 97.9% of participants rating an antihistamine as helpful. The main antihistamine side effects reported were drowsiness and nausea. Conclusion Poor sleep pattern symptoms were associated with many factors including increasing age. Antihistamines were an effective treatment to improve sleep patterns.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorGregory J. Kyle (Supervisor) & Gabrielle Cooper (Supervisor)

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