The Role of a Pharmacist in Managing Sleep Disorders

MARCH 08, 2018
If your patients are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, they are not alone.1-3 March is National Sleep Awareness month, and March 11-17 is the National Sleep Foundation's 2018 Sleep Awareness Week.4

Getting adequate sleep each night is a vital component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and more than 1/3 of adults in the United States have reported falling short of receiving the recommended amounts of rest.1-3 Being chronically sleep deprived can increase one’s risk of developing chronic disease states, such as diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, and others. Sleep deprivation can also impact neuropsylogical disorders including acute manafestations, such as increased nightmares.5

It is important for patients to utilize assistance in managing their sleep disorders to ensure they are getting the proper rest they need. This year's Sleep Awareness week's theme is 'Begin with sleep,' and pharmacists can play an important role in championing optimal sleep health.4 While many areas in the United States may lack specialized sleep disorder centers, most people have access to a pharmacy.

Sleep disorders have many aggravating factors that can be identified by a pharmacist, such as lifestyle habits and certain medication regimens. There is an abundance of medications that can negatively impact the body’s sleep cycle. Pharmacists are experts at identifying such medications and can help guide their patients in the right direction if their medications are the culprit of the problem. Pharmacists can also recommend non-pharmacologic treatment options that may improve the quality of sleep that their patients are getting.

Pharmacists can decipher what treatment strategies are appropriate for their struggling patients and can recommend any alternative options that are available.When patients find themselves in this aggravating situation of losing sleep, confiding in a pharmacist will help them improve their outcomes. Together, a solution for their sleep disorder can be found, and patients can be on their way to nights full of peaceful rest.

This article was written with M. Kalyn Davis, PharmD candidate at Samford University's McWhorter School of Pharmacy.

  1. Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published March 9, 2017. Accessed January 21, 2018.
  2. The role of the pharmacist in the health care system, Part 1: the role of the pharmacist in the healthcare system, The scope of pharmacy and the functions of pharmacists, Community pharmacy. World Health Organization: Essential medicines and health products information portal. Accessed January 21, 2018. 
  3. No Snooze Button On Treating Sleep Disorders. Published August 1, 2013. Accessed February 24, 2018.
  4. National Sleep Foundation. Accessed March 7, 2018.
  5. When sleeping becomes difficult, va can help. My HealtheVet. Accessed March 7, 2018.

Marilyn Bulloch, PharmD, BCPS
Marilyn Bulloch, PharmD, BCPS
Marilyn Novell Bulloch, PharmD BCPS, is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the Auburn University School of Pharmacy and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama School of Medicine College of Community Health Sciences Department of Internal Medicine. She completed a post-graduate pharmacy practice residency at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital and a post-graduate specialty residency in critical care pharmacy at Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, West Virginia. Dr. Bulloch also completed a Faculty Scholars Program in geriatrics through the University of Alabama-Birmingham Geriatric Education Center in 2011. She serves on multiple committees and in leadership positions for many local, state, and national pharmacy and interdisciplinary medical organizations.
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