How to sleep while taking Cymbalta

Reviewed by:
Angela DiLaura, NP
Clinical Informatics and Quality Manager
Last updated on August 11, 2022

Cymbalta is a popular medication for the treatment of certain mental health conditions and nerve pain, but it is also associated with side effects like insomnia. Struggling with insomnia while taking the drug can lead someone to look for answers on how to sleep while taking Cymbalta. 

Fortunately, there is help for people experiencing this side effect.

What is Cymbalta, and what does it treat?

Cymbalta, a brand-name drug that is also sold under the generic name duloxetine, is a prescription drug that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SNRI).

SNRIs like Cymbalta help treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety as well as low back pain or fibromyalgia. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Cymbalta for the treatment of depression in August 2004.

Today, doctors prescribe Cymbalta for treating depression, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy.

Major depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder, a mental health condition that is sometimes called clinical depression, is a condition in which patients experience intense and ongoing feelings of sadness for a period of at least two weeks or more. The condition is common, affecting about seven percent of adults in the United States in any given year. 

Common signs of Major depressive disorder include a loss of interest in activities or hobbies, difficulty carrying out daily tasks and routines, and thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. 

Depression can cause significant and noticeable changes in people’s mood and behavior, but it can also cause physical symptoms that affect sleep or eating habits.

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness.
  • Feeling sad, empty, or tearful.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Low energy.
  • Sleeping and eating more or less than usual.
  • Nervous energy.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
  • Feelings of moving or thinking in slow motion.

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by intense, persistent feelings of anxiety over a period of six months or more. While occasional feelings of anxiety are considered typical, people with generalized anxiety disorder find that the condition can significantly affect their quality of life.

Generalized anxiety disorder includes symptoms like increased heart rate, difficulty falling asleep, trouble concentrating, panic attacks, restlessness, and rapid breathing.


Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that causes chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain with no apparent source. Pain can occur anywhere in the body at any time. 

Scientists are still unsure why some people experience fibromyalgia, but they believe that improper processing of pain signals in the brain could be to blame. 

Symptoms of fibromyalgia often include widespread chronic pain, fatigue, memory issues, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, mood issues, sleep issues, temporomandibular joint disorders, and anxiety. 

Some people start to experience fibromyalgia suddenly after significant physical or psychological stress. Others experience a slower onset of symptoms.

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that occurs when diabetic patients fail to control their blood sugar, resulting in nerve damage. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause injury to the nerves in the body, particularly the legs and feet. 

When damaged, the nerves may cause symptoms ranging from pain and numbness in the legs and feet to digestive issues, urinary tract problems, and heart problems.

What side effects are commonly associated with Cymbalta?

Like most antidepressants, Cymbalta may cause side effects. Medical experts categorize these side effects as either common or less common. 

Common side effects associated with Cymbalta include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Skin rash.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Tremor.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Constipation.
  • Abdominal pain or stomach pain.
  • Tiredness or sleepiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Bruising easily.

Less common side effects that may occur in long-term users of Cymbalta include:

  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Liver disease or damage in individuals who mix the medication with alcohol.
  • Colitis.
  • Frequent urination.

Cymbalta may not be the best choice for those who have glaucoma, bipolar disorder, high blood pressure, or stomach problems. Rarely, some life-threatening adverse effects, including increased risk of suicidal thoughts, can occur.

Patients should speak with their prescribing doctor to discuss the potential for serious side effects, like serotonin syndrome. 

Some supplements like St. John’s wort and over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen can cause poor drug interactions — as can blood-thinning medications like warfarin. 

Does Cymbalta cause insomnia?

Cymbalta can cause insomnia as a side effect. Insomnia is a condition where people have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up at the right time.

The FDA reports that insomnia is more likely to occur in patients taking Cymbalta for musculoskeletal pain, including those taking the drug for fibromyalgia or diabetic neuropathy. 

Although it is less common, patients taking Cymbalta for major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder can also experience insomnia as a side effect.

How to sleep better while taking Cymbalta

It’s still possible to sleep while taking Cymbalta. Here are a few things that can help improve sleep. 

Slowly increase dosage

People are more likely to experience insomnia as a side effect of Cymbalta if they start off taking a high dose without giving their body time to adjust to the medication. While most healthcare providers start patients at a low dose and gradually increase the amount, some people may need to increase their dosage even more slowly.

If a patient notices new side effects while increasing their dose of Cymbalta, they can let their healthcare provider know and ask to increase their dosage at a slower pace. 

Get plenty of exercise

Doing exercises or physical activity is important for keeping the body healthy and for improving the quality of sleep. That said, it’s best to avoid exercising within an hour of bedtime, as this can exacerbate insomnia.

Reduce the dose

Some people may find that they do not experience insomnia symptoms when taking Cymbalta at a lower dose. If insomnia worsens as the dosage increases, it’s important to let the prescribing healthcare provider know. 

They may recommend reducing the dose or even stopping the medication altogether if the therapeutic benefit does not outweigh the negative side effects. 

Avoid alcohol

Self-medicating with alcohol is common for people who struggle with insomnia because alcohol works as a depressant, making them drowsy. While alcohol may help people fall asleep quickly, it also disrupts the quality of sleep, making them more likely to wake up in the middle of the night or feel tired after they wake up.

Therefore, people with insomnia should avoid alcohol, particularly if they already struggle with waking up at the wrong times. Experts recommend that patients avoid using alcohol with Cymbalta, as it can increase the risk of certain side effects like liver damage.

Limit screen time before bed

The body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin when it is time to sleep. However, exposure to the blue light emanating from TV screens, computers, and smartphones can disrupt the body’s production of this hormone, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Experts recommend avoiding exposure to screens within two hours of bedtime to fall asleep more easily.

Avoid caffeine and nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine both serve as stimulants that can prevent a good night’s sleep. Caffeine can have a stimulant effect for up to nine hours in the body, so experts recommend that people stop consuming caffeine past lunchtime. 

Nicotine in tobacco products also acts as a stimulant, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Nicotine can also increase the risk of experiencing nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. 

For this reason, doctors usually advise that patients taking Cymbalta for nerve pain avoid using nicotine products.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Practicing good sleep hygiene, a.k.a. good habits around bedtime, can also help improve insomnia symptoms. Make sure to sleep in a cool, dark room, use the bed only for sleeping and sex, and go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.

Does insomnia from Cymbalta just go away?

Trouble sleeping caused by Cymbalta may go away over time as the body gets used to the medication. Some patients may need to spend some time adjusting their dose with their doctor’s supervision in order to find the right dose of Cymbalta.

Other people may not be able to tolerate Cymbalta and may need to switch to a different medication. 

If someone takes Cymbalta and finds that their insomnia lasts for more than a few weeks after increasing the dose, they should talk to their healthcare provider for proper medical advice.

The bottom line

Cymbalta can cause insomnia in some patients, particularly those who take the medication for musculoskeletal pain. Patients taking Cymbalta can try working with their provider to gradually increase or reduce their dose and see if their insomnia improves. 

Other strategies for getting restful sleep while taking Cymbalta include getting enough exercise, avoiding alcohol, cutting out caffeine and nicotine, and practicing good sleep hygiene. 

Some people may not be able to tolerate Cymbalta and may need to switch to a different drug to treat depression or other health conditions. The discontinuation of Cymbalta should be done under medical guidance to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

If you’re taking Cymbalta and having trouble sleeping, set up an appointment with one of Healthtap’s virtual providers today. You can start working toward better sleep from the comfort of your own home.

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap articles are reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Visit to learn more and meet some of the medical editorial board members behind our blog. The information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. HealthTap is a virtual-first, affordable urgent- and primary-care clinic, providing top-quality physician care nationwide to Americans with or without insurance. Our proprietary, easy-to-use, and innovative apps and electronic medical record apply Silicon Valley standards to effectively engage consumers and doctors online to increase the equity, accessibility, and efficiency of ongoing medical care for consumers, providers, employers, and payers. In addition, with HealthTap, businesses can offer virtual primary care to employees for less than the cost of free coffee. HealthTap's US-based board-certified physicians are available throughout North America. For more information, visit

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