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Original Research

Effects of Fluvoxamine and Paroxetine on Sleep Structure in Normal Subjects: A Home-Based Nightcap Evaluation During Drug Administration and Withdrawal

Rosalia Silvestri, Edward F. Pace-Schott, Tamara Gersh, Robert Stickgold, Carl Salzman, and J. Allan Hobson

Published: August 1, 2001

Article Abstract

Background: Acute and chronic administration of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been widely reported to disrupt sleep in laboratory studies. This study examines the naturalistic, longitudinal effects of paroxetine and fluvoxamine on sleep quality in the home setting.

Method: Fourteen healthy volunteers free of medical and neuropsychiatric symptoms entered a 31-day protocol: 7 days of drug-free baseline (days 1-7), 19 days of drug treatment (steady state during days 18-26), and 5 days of acute withdrawal (days 27-31). On day 8, the subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 100 mg/day of fluvoxamine or 20 mg/day of paroxetine (half receiving each drug) in divided morning and evening oral doses. Investigators remained blinded to drug assignment until all sleep data had been analyzed. Sleep was monitored using the Nightcap ambulatory sleep monitor. Four standard and 3 novel measures were computed and compared using multivariate analysis of variance, analysis of variance, and Bonferroni-corrected comparison of means.

Results: Sleep disruption was most clearly demonstrated using the novel measures eyelid quiescence index, rhythmicity, and eyelid movements per minute in non-rapid eye movement sleep, but was also apparent as determined by standard measures of sleep efficiency, number of awakenings, and sleep onset latency. Paroxetine disrupted sleep more than fluvoxamine, and paroxetine-induced sleep disruption persisted into the withdrawal phase. Rapid eye movement sleep was suppressed during treatment (especially for fluvoxamine) and rebounded during withdrawal (especially for paroxetine).

Conclusion: We confirm laboratory polysomnographic findings of SSRI-induced sleep quality changes and demonstrate the Nightcap’s efficacy as an inexpensive longitudinal monitor for objective sleep changes induced by psychotropic medication.

Volume: 62

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