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Clonidine for sleep is becoming a more common treatment choice, especially for children with autism. Clonidine controls the activity of a very important neurotransmitter in the brain: norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters like norepinephrine serve as chemical messengers that help manage certain functions including sleep. 

Norepinephrine plays a permissive role in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Without proper REM sleep, people feel anxious and irritable. They may have trouble concentrating and be restless. 


Always follow your doctor’s dosing instructions. Dosing may differ from person to person, but generally looks like the following:

  • 0.02 to 0.06 mg twice a day for adults – note smaller doses
  • Dosage for children as directed by a doctor

Side Effects

Side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Constipation
  • Changes in skin color
  • Decreased libido
  • Dry eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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