Insomnia contributed to Michael Jackson’s death

Jenny Decker RN's picture
Michael Jackson Insomnia

Michael Jackson had an extreme case of insomnia. As a result of this, he was on several medications to help him sleep. He was treated by many doctors and a nurse practitioner. The preliminary findings from the coroner indicate that Jackson had lethal amounts of the drug propofol in his system at the time of death. He also had other drugs in his system as well. According to the doctor that was treating him, these were for insomnia.

Dr. Conrad Murray was the doctor in attendance that night. He was trying to alleviate Jackson’s insomnia. He told detectives what occurred that night before the propofol was administered. First he gave 10 mg of Valium at 1:30 am, followed by an injection of 2 mg of Ativan at 2 am. At 3 am, Murray gave Jackson 2 mg of Versed, which is a sedative. Valium and Ativan are antianxiety medications, but are often given for insomnia as they are more gentle than some sleeping medications.

At 7:30 am, Murray gave Jackson more Versed, and finally gave him propofol at 10:40 am. After 10 minutes, Michael Jackson was asleep and so the doctor left his side to go to the restroom for just a moment. When he came back, Jackson was no longer breathing.

Insomnia has several different causes. Significant life stress such as job change or the death of a loved one can cause insomnia. Even good stress can be a cause. Emotional or physical discomfort make sleeping difficult. Noise, light, or extreme temperatures may cause acute insomnia. Some medications may cause insomnia, so it may be necessary to talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you are having any difficulty sleeping. Jet lag or switching from a day to night shift can also alter sleep patterns. Depression and anxiety, chronic stress and pain or discomfort at night may be a cause of chronic insomnia.


Symptoms of insomnia include sleepiness during the day, general fatigue, irritability, and problems with concentration or remembering things. There are treatments for insomnia. Michael Jackson had an addiction to several prescription drugs as a result of his insomnia. The drugs used to treat the insomnia no doubt also contributed to more insomnia. Dr. Murray stated that he was in the process of helping Jackson get off some of those medications.

If you think you have insomnia, talk with your doctor. He may have you keep a sleep diary for a week, maybe two weeks. This helps to identify your sleeping patterns. You may be prescribed a sleeping pill for a short amount of time. However, other treatment should be included with this. Some behavioral approaches may help. Relaxation exercises, sleep restriction therapy, and reconditioning have been used to treat insomnia.

Some other tricks can be used to help with insomnia. Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day as they can keep you from sleeping. Regular exercise helps the body to relax and thus fall asleep and stay asleep. Eating heavy meals late in the day may make sleeping difficult. Use the bed for sleeping and sex. Do not use it for anything else. Make your bedroom comfortable and cozy. Finally, if you cannot sleep, do not stay in bed. Get up and read a book or do something until you feel sleepy.

Insomnia is not treated over night. It takes time. Taking sleeping meds for a short amount of time may help, but finding ways to ease your body into sleep each night work better in the long run. Jackson became tolerant to the prescription drugs and needed higher doses and more drugs to feel the same comfort of falling asleep. Do not let this happen to you. Be careful and mindful of your health. Be proactive and be a partner with your doctor to solve your insomnia.