Does Oxycodone Make You Sleepy?

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Oxycodone is a powerful opioid medication that can cause overdose if taken in large doses or combined with other drugs that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Oxycodone use can significantly impact sleep, both in terms of quantity and quality of sleep. As an opioid pain medication, oxycodone can cause drowsiness, increasing the time a person sleeps. However, oxycodone can also disrupt the normal sleep cycle and lead to problems with both falling and staying asleep.

Yes, oxycodone can make you sleepy as it is a powerful opioid pain medication that can cause drowsiness as a side effect. Oxycodone works by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which can produce a feeling of euphoria, pain relief, and sedation.

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Oxycodone & Drowsiness Effects

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid pain medication that can cause drowsiness and fatigue as common side effects. Drowsiness is one of the most commonly reported side effects of oxycodone use and can occur in as many as 1 in 3 people taking the medication.

One of the main ways that oxycodone can impact sleep is by decreasing the time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, an important stage of the sleep cycle associated with memory consolidation, learning, and emotional processing. Oxycodone use can also cause daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and grogginess upon waking, interfering with daily activities and reducing the overall quality of life.

In addition, long-term use of oxycodone can lead to the development of tolerance, which means that a person may need higher doses of the medication to achieve the same level of pain relief, which can further disrupt sleep.

Other Side Effects of Oxycodone Related to Sleepiness

In addition to drowsiness and the potential for sleep disturbances, several other side effects of oxycodone may be related to sleepiness.

Additional Side Effects of Oxycodone 

  • Fatigue – Oxycodone can cause fatigue, extreme tiredness, or lack of energy. This can be a common side effect, particularly when starting or adjusting the dose of the medication.
  • Reduced Cognitive Function – Oxycodone can impair cognitive function, including problems with concentration, attention, and memory. These effects can be especially pronounced in individuals sensitive to opioids or taking higher doses.
  • Dizziness – Oxycodone can cause dizziness, which the medication’s sedative effects can exacerbate. This can lead to problems with balance and coordination and increase the risk of falls.
  • Respiratory Depression – Oxycodone can cause respiratory depression, a slowing of breathing that can be dangerous or life-threatening. This is more likely to occur at higher doses or in individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
  • Sleep Apnea – Oxycodone can worsen sleep apnea, where breathing stops and starts during sleep. This can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue and increase the risk of other health problems.

Other Common Side Effects of Oxycodone & Opioids

In addition to the side effects related to sleepiness discussed, there are several other common side effects of oxycodone and opioids.

Common Side Effects of Oxycodone: 

  • Nausea & Vomiting – Opioids can cause nausea and vomiting, particularly when starting or adjusting the dose of the medication. These side effects can often be managed with anti-nausea medications or by changing the opioid dose.
  • Constipation – Opioids can cause constipation, a common side effect that can be very uncomfortable. Drinking fluids and eating a high-fiber diet help prevent or manage constipation.
  • Itching – Opioids can cause itching or skin rash, particularly in individuals sensitive to the medication. This side effect can often be managed with antihistamines or a different opioid medication.
  • Sweating – Opioids can cause excessive sweating, particularly at night, which can be uncomfortable and disruptive to sleep.

Do All Painkillers Make You Tired?

Not all painkillers make you tired. Different painkillers have different mechanisms of action and can affect the body differently, leading to varying side effects. Some painkillers, such as opioids like oxycodone, can cause sedation and drowsiness, making you tired or sleepy.

Other painkillers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, do not typically cause drowsiness as a side effect.

However, even painkillers that do not typically cause drowsiness can affect individuals differently. Some people may be more sensitive to certain medications or may experience side effects that are not common.

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How Do Opioids Cause Drowsiness?

Opioids can cause drowsiness by binding to specific brain and spinal cord receptors that regulate pain, mood, and sleep. Opioid receptors are located throughout the central nervous system, and their activation can produce various effects, including pain relief, euphoria, and sedation.

One of the main ways that opioids cause drowsiness is by decreasing the activity in the brainstem that is involved in arousal and vigilance. Opioids inhibit the release of norepinephrine, which reduces arousal and leads to drowsiness.

Opioids can also affect other neurotransmitter systems in the brain involved in sleep regulation, such as the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin systems. Opioids increase GABA’s activity, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and sleep. Opioids also increase the release of serotonin, which can have sedative effects.

Does Oxycodone Make it Difficult to Wake Up?

Yes, oxycodone can make it difficult to wake up, especially if taken in high doses or for a prolonged period. Oxycodone is a central nervous system depressant that can slow down brain activity and lead to drowsiness and sedation. This can make waking up from sleep difficult or feeling alert and focused during the day.

In addition to causing drowsiness, oxycodone can also cause other side effects that can interfere with wakefulness, such as confusion, impaired memory, and decreased reaction time. These effects can be particularly problematic for people who need to perform tasks that require focus and attention, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.

Managing Opioid-Related Sedation & Drowsiness

If you experience opioid-related sedation and drowsiness, several strategies can help manage these side effects.

How to Manage Drowsiness From Opioids: 

  • Adjusting the dosage.
  • Taking the medication at a different time.
  • Avoiding other sedating substances.
  • Staying active.
  • Improving sleep hygiene.

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At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of oxycodone detox that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While prioritizing a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine the most appropriate level of care for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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