Sleep- and Wake-Promoting Drugs: Where Are They Being Sourced, and What Is Their Impact?

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Background: Recent decades have seen both an increased number of shift workers in order to deliver services 24/7, and increased potential for social interactions at all hours of the day. People have sought to engage in strategies, which either promote vigilance or facilitate sleep, with the use of sleep- and wake-promoting drugs representing one strategy. Methods: We investigated use of sleep- and wake-promoting drugs in participants (n = 377) who completed a survey investigating the type and source of sleep- and wake-promoting drugs, and their impact on sleep and performance outcomes. Results: The most commonly reported wake-promoting drugs were amphetamine and dextroamphetamin salts, modafinil, and illicit substances including methamphetamine and cocaine, while the most commonly reported sleep-promoting drugs were benzodiazepines and antihistamines. Use of a sleep-promoting drug in the past month was associated with higher odds of having poorer sleep quality (OR = 3.15) and moderate-high insomnia (OR = 3.30), while use of a wake-promoting drug was associated with poor sleep quality (OR = 3.76), or making a fatigue-related error (OR = 2.65). Conclusions: These findings represent novel data on the use and source of sleep- and wake-promoting- drugs, and suggest that despite their use, poor sleep and performance outcomes persist, likely representing individuals struggling to keep up with the 24/7 world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1916-1928
Number of pages13
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


  • daytime dysfunction
  • insomnia
  • performance
  • sleep quality
  • Sleep-promoting drug
  • wake-promoting drug

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