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HIV Med. 2006 May;7(4):243-7.

Changes in sleep quality and brain wave patterns following initiation of an efavirenz-containing triple antiretroviral regimen.

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Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, UK.



Initiation of efavirenz is commonly associated with sleep disturbances. Assessment of sleep using the electroencephalogram and electromyogram enables sleep staging to be performed and changes following the introduction of therapy to be evaluated.


Using standardized sleep-staging methodology, we investigated sleep staging and sleep quality by patient self-report in an open-label cohort pilot study. Assessments were performed prior to the initiation of efavirenz, 2 weeks after the initiation of efavirenz and 3 months after the initiation of efavirenz. The study included HIV-positive individuals without central neurological disease who were naive to antiretroviral treatment. All patients initiated treatment with two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors in combination with efavirenz.


Ten patients completed all three study visits. Patients reported an increase in recollection of dreams and morning sluggishness after the initiation of efavirenz which persisted for 3 months. Sleep-staging data indicated a modest reduction in stage 2 sleep with a corresponding increase in deep sleep stage 4 and a modest increase in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Overall sleep maintenance efficiency did not significantly change from baseline. Changes in sleep staging were most marked 2 weeks after the initiation of efavirenz but remained different from baseline patterns at 3 months.


The data indicate that efavirenz has a modest but persistent impact on the time spent in several key sleep stages. Patients reported persistence of dream recollection but remained satisfied with sleep quality and overall quality of life.

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