Effects of isotretinoin treatment on sleep in patients with severe acne: a pilot study

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2012 Jun;26(6):778-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2011.04095.x. Epub 2011 May 4.


Background: There are a few case reports in literature that isotretinoin treatment may alter sleep architecture. Also studies in mice suggest a role of retinoids in the contribution of delta oscillations to the sleep electroencephalography.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of isotretinoin treatment on sleep architecture using polysomnography (PSG).

Patients and methods: Twelve severe acne vulgaris patients without any psychiatric and sleep disorders were treated with 0.5 mg/kg of isotretinoin. Clinician-administered acne questionnaire, psychiatric examination, Epworth sleepiness scale and PSG recordings were performed after the first month of treatment.

Results: Sleep efficiency was increased from 83.5% (62.8-89.0%, quartiles) to 89.5% (81.5-93.5%, quartiles; P = 0.036) and sleep latency decreased from 18.0 min (11.1-36.3, quartiles) to 15.5 min (9.3-19.0, quartiles; P = 0.023) following 1-month isotretinoin treatment. There were no significant changes in other sleep parameters of PSG and scores of Epworth sleepiness scale.

Conclusions: This study suggests that isotretinoin treatment slightly improves night-time sleep without any effects on sleep stages and daytime sleepiness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isotretinoin / adverse effects
  • Isotretinoin / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Isotretinoin