Effects of pregabalin on sleep in generalized anxiety disorder

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 May;16(4):925-36. doi: 10.1017/S1461145712000922. Epub 2012 Sep 25.


Sleep disturbance is a cardinal symptom in both DSM-IV and ICD-10 criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This review summarizes the results of clinical trials and pooled analyses that provide data on pregabalin's effect on sleep disturbance in patients diagnosed with GAD. The hypothesized mechanism of action of pregabalin is distinctly different from other anxiolytics. Pregabalin binds to a membrane α2δ subunit protein to inhibit release in excited central nervous system neurons of neurotransmitters implicated in pathological anxiety. Treatment with pregabalin has been found to be associated with significant improvement in GAD-related sleep disturbance across seven placebo-controlled clinical trials. Treatment with pregabalin is associated with improvement in all forms of insomnia and improvement in sleep has been found to be correlated with reduction in functional impairment and improvement in quality of life on subjective global measures. Results of a mediational analysis suggest that 53% of the effect of pregabalin on sleep disturbance was due to a direct effect and 47% was due to an indirect effect, mediated through prior reduction in anxiety symptom severity. In patients with GAD, improvement in sleep has been found to be associated with a reduction in daytime sleepiness. However, dose-related sedation is reported, typically in the first 2 wk of treatment, in approximately 10-30% of patients, depending on the dose used and the speed of titration. Insomnia is a common component of the clinical presentation of GAD and pregabalin appears to be an efficacious treatment for this often chronic and disabling symptom.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Humans
  • Pregabalin
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / therapeutic use


  • Pregabalin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid