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Can a Cortisone Shot Cause Insomnia?

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jan 24, 2022

Cortisone is a really well-studied medication.

Overall, it’s pretty safe for short term usage, but can cause mostly minor side effects that resolve themselves (1).

While insomnia is not a common direct side effect of cortisone shots, there are a few side effects that may indirectly cause insomnia symptoms.

That’s what we’ll look at in this short post.

Typical Physical Side Effects of Cortisone

The side effects of cortisone can be split into physical and psychiatric.

The most common short-term side effects of corticosteroid treatment like cortisone are (2):

  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hematologic and immunologic effects

Most of these are mild, but there is some research showing rare cases where clinical attention may be required.

When it comes to long-term usage of corticosteroids, there are some more serious potential side effects like:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Aseptic joint necrosis
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Growth suppression

None of these are obvious causes of sleep problems at first glance.

Typical Psychiatric Side Effects of Cortisone

On top of physical side effects, cortisone can affect the mental health of patients as well.

There’s a wide variety of potential conditions that cortisone shots can lead to (3,4):

  • Mania
  • Depression
  • Mood disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment (i.e. attention, memory deficit)

Research has shown that these symptoms typically occur within the first 2 weeks of corticosteroid therapy and are affected by dose.

There’s also a possibility of treating most of these with lithium, and it turns out that lithium can also help insomnia in many cases.

Can Those Cortisone Shot Side Effects Cause Insomnia?

In some people, it’s reasonable to connect the dots between some of those side effects and sleep problems.

The side effects that stand out are:

So even though insomnia is not a common consequence of cortisone shots, there are some reasonable mechanisms to explain it.

Will Insomnia From Cortisone Go Away?

As noted from the cited research earlier, most cortisone side effects show up in the first few weeks following treatment and resolve by themselves.

There are different types of insomnia, which includes acute (temporary or transient) insomnia and chronic insomnia.

The insomnia symptoms from cortisone are typically going to fit under acute insomnia that will resolve once the underlying symptom has gone away.

However, in some cases, acute insomnia can develop into chronic insomnia. This is part of why any side effects from a cortisone shot should be monitored by a doctor and treated as soon as possible.

References

  1. Side-effects of Cortisone
  2. Side Effects of Corticosteroid Therapy
  3. The psychiatric side effects of corticosteroids
  4. Long-term side effects of glucocorticoids
  5. Oral magnesium supplementation for insomnia in older adults: a Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.