Trazodone improves sleep parameters in Alzheimer disease patients: a randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Dec;22(12):1565-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2013.12.174. Epub 2014 Jan 4.


Objectives: There are no randomized clinical trials regarding efficacy of trazodone in the treatment of sleep disturbances (SD) in patients with Alzheimer disease (AD). We tested the efficacy and safety of trazodone to treat SD in patients with AD.

Design: We conducted a double-blind, randomized and controlled trial during periods of 7-9 days at baseline and 2 weeks of treatment.

Setting: Geriatric medical center of the university's general hospital.

Participants: Individuals with probable AD and SD. The complete analysis comprised 30 patients assigned to either the active treatment group (N = 15) or the placebo group (N = 15).

Intervention: Patients received 50 mg of trazodone once daily at 10:00 P.M. or placebo in a 1:1 ratio for 2 weeks.

Measurements: Patients were evaluated using actigraphy and structured scales before and after intervention.

Results: Compared with the placebo group, trazodone users slept 42.5 more minutes per night and had their nighttime percent sleep increased 8.5 percentage points according to actigraphic data post-treatment. Neither trazodone nor placebo induced significant daytime sleepiness or naps. The treatments with trazodone or placebo did not show any effects either on cognition (Mini-Mental State Examination, forward/backward digit span task, letter-number sequencing, arithmetic, digit symbol-coding, and symbol search) or functionality (Katz index). There were no differences in frequency or severity rating of adverse events between the groups.

Conclusions: This study shows significant therapeutic effects of trazodone 50 mg in community-dwelling AD patients with SD.

Trial registration: NCT01142258.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease; Sleep disorders; insomnia; intervention; trazodone; treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Trazodone / administration & dosage
  • Trazodone / adverse effects
  • Trazodone / pharmacology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Trazodone

Associated data