Risk of insomnia attributable to β-blockers in elderly patients with newly diagnosed hypertension

Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2013;28(1):53-8. doi: 10.2133/dmpk.dmpk-12-rg-004. Epub 2012 Jul 17.


Use of β-blockers may cause insomnia and central nervous system and/or psychological side effects, but data are limited on the relative risks of insomnia among β-blockers. This retrospective cohort study used Taiwan's National Health Insurance claims database from 2003 to 2007, where 4,063 patients aged above 65 years with newly diagnosed hypertension and treated with β-blockers were followed for 1 year. The primary endpoint was a new insomnia event within 30 days of treatment initiation. Adjusted odds ratios of insomnia were obtained by logistic regressions, controlling for baseline risk factors of insomnia. Using propranolol therapy as the reference, the adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for the insomnia risk was 0.47 (0.35-0.63) for non-propranolol users, 0.31 (0.19-0.50) for bisoprolol, and 0.46 (0.33-0.66) for atenolol. Compared to the patients using non-selective β-blockers, the adjusted odds ratio was 0.48 (0.36-0.34) for those using selective β(1)-blockers. Additionally, the adjusted odds ratio was 0.72 (0.53-0.96) for β-blockers with low lipophilicity when compared to those with high lipophilicity. The use of bisoprolol and atenolol was associated with the lowest risk of insomnia in elderly patients, as compared to propranolol. β-Blockers with high selectivity in β(1)-receptors and/or low lipophilicity were associated with a lower risk of insomnia.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / chemically induced*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Antihypertensive Agents