The effects of prazosin on sleep disturbances in post-traumatic stress disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Sleep Med. 2020 Mar:67:225-231. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2019.06.010. Epub 2019 Jun 22.


Background: Nightmares are a highly prevalent and distressing feature of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previous studies have reached mixed conclusions regarding the effects of prazosin on nightmares, sleep quality, and overall PTSD symptoms in patients with PTSD.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, all EBM databases, PsycIFNO, and CINAHL were systematically searched from inception date to October 2018 for randomized clinical trials that included reporting of nightmares, sleep quality or overall PTSD symptoms. The analysis included data from eight trials involving 286 PTSD patients in the prazosin group and 289 PTSD patients in the placebo group.

Results: In our meta-analysis, prazosin resulted in a statistically significant improvement in nightmares (standardized mean difference (SMD) = -1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI) = -1.91 to -0.36), but was not more beneficial than placebo for overall PTSD symptoms (SMD = -0.45, 95% CI = -0.95 to 0.05) and sleep quality (SMD = -0.44, 95% CI = -1.44 to 0.55). In terms of acceptability, there was no significant difference between the prazosin group and the placebo group with respect to discontinuation for all causes (odds ratio (OR) = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.62-1.62). In conclusion, the use of prazosin was associated with an improvement of nightmare symptoms.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that additional studies are needed before considering downgrading the use of prazosin in the treatment of nightmares in patients with PTSD.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Nightmare; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Prazosin.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dreams / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Prazosin / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Prazosin