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Get Some Sleep: Beware the sleeping pill hangover
June 7th, 2011
04:28 PM ET

Get Some Sleep: Beware the sleeping pill hangover

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

Henry was 80 years old and “tired all the time.” His primary care doc had done a thorough work up. I tested for every sleep disorder known to man and god and found no underlying problem with his sleep quality.

At our initial visit, I had expressed my concern that his hypnotic medication, Clonazepam, could be part of the problem, especially because his dose of 2 mg was rather high for a man his age. He had been reluctant to make any changes to a medication that, from his point of view, had worked so well for him over the years. Now, with all other explanations ruled out, he was ready to try to get off it in order to feel less groggy in the morning.

I tapered him slowly and he had no withdrawal symptoms nor any rebound insomnia. He feels more energetic and less sleepy in the daytime and he only occasionally uses a sleeping aid when he has trouble falling asleep.

This is a scenario that is played out every day in my sleep clinic: the medications that we doctors give to help patients sleep end up making them feel tired and groggy the next day.

Clonazepam (Klonopin) is a common culprit. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. They have been used as sleeping agents for decades. They have many other uses including the treatment of anxiety, seizure and muscle spasm.

In general, these drugs can be very useful sleep aids, but must be used cautiously because they will often cause dependence, tolerance, withdrawal and rebound insomnia if used long enough on a nightly basis. Dependence is fairly self-explanatory and means that a person cannot sleep without the drug. Tolerance means that that the dosage has to be repeatedly increased to achieve the same affect. It is not the same as addiction but is often confused with it.

They can also cause withdrawal which means the emergence of a new set of symptoms that were not present before using the medication. Common withdrawal symptoms include agitation, nausea, sweating and palpitations.

The benzodiazepines can cause rebound insomnia. Rebound insomnia means insomnia that is worse than it was before a patient started the drug. Typically, it lasts only one or two nights.

The problem with Clonazepam in particular is that it has a very long half life. Therefore, it takes a long time to clear the system and its hypnotic and sedating effects can last well into the next day. There can be withdrawal if stopped abruptly, but it is less likely to cause rebound insomnia when compared to shorter-acting benzos.

Besides daytime sedation, any of the benzodiazepines can cause amnesia, sleepwalking and sleep eating. There are studies showing increased fall risk in the elderly, but there is also research showing that untreated insomnia increases falls. There is definite concern that these medications can have multiple deleterious effects in the elderly including memory and cognition problems. As with most medications, the doses should be lower when patients are elderly or have liver or kidney impairment.

For insomnia treatment, it is better to use benzodiazepines that have a medium half life such as lorazepam or temazepam. They will usually help someone get to sleep and stay asleep most of the night without too much hangover effect the next morning.

As with most prescription sleep aids, I recommend intermittent use so that tolerance and withdrawal might be avoided.

Medications such as zolpidem (Ambien) are called non-benzodiazepines but that is misleading because they act on the same GABA benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. They just don’t bind to as many subunits as the traditional benzos which has good and bad effects. One bad effect is that drugs like Ambien have no anti-anxiety properties and most people with insomnia have anxiety either that is fueling the insomnia or as a consequence of the insomnia.

Therefore, if someone has chronic, nightly difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, I recommend CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia). As I have discussed in previous posts, it is the safest treatment and actually the most effective one in the long term.

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Filed under: Sleep

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. kevin

    I have been using Temezapam for over a year now and have had no side effects. I hope it stays that way. It works very well for me. Since I've been taking it I really havent had any problems at all w/ enough sleep. I do taKE IT EVERY NIGHT though. Dont truly know if I could sleep without it. My sleep is important.

    June 7, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MikefromWV

      I use both Temezapam and Clonozopine. I use both due to the fact that either one, taken individually, for me, only have an effective life of about 3 hours. Hence, I take both. And yes, I do take a daily nap. Taken together, I can sleep through the night. Either one, taken individually, and I wake up two or three times during the night. I take them as I have moderate sleep apnea and cannot use a CPAP due to severe claustrophobia.

      June 7, 2011 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
    • ncmd

      Re Mike- You still have sleep apnea when taking sedatives but you don't wake up as much and go even longer without breathing. In other words sedative sleep aids Increase the death rate from sleep apnea and taking two of them together is just plain stupid.

      June 8, 2011 at 07:28 | Report abuse |
  2. Sue

    This article was very helpful. I have definitely experienced the symptoms she describes, and I will be discussing this with my doctor soon. Thank you, CNN.

    June 7, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chris

    Melatonin or Cannabinoids are far safer then benzos

    June 7, 2011 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jovie

      This is definitely true. Benzos are pure hell. Just try coming off them. You'll be going through something very similar to alcohol withdrawal.

      June 8, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  4. sally

    Anti-depressants and anti-seizures also cause insomnia, as well as this hangover effect. I take both to treat oro-facial nerve pain as a result of a 1998 root canal.
    Although I SO appreciate what these medications do for my pain, the chronic insomnia and drowsiness are dreadful. There are nights when I literally do not get one minute's sleep.

    June 7, 2011 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Gordon

    I have been taking 50 mg of diphenhydramine hydrochloride each night for many months, which gives me a very good night's sleep. However, I find that I am prone to taking a nap of about an hour mid-morning, and sometimes in the afternoon. When I stopped taking this, I could usually get to sleep with no problem, but going back to bed after a mid-sleep bathroom trip left me unable to get back to sleep. However, I am going to try stopping again. I am a 70-year old male in very good health.

    June 7, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Gordon – I too had trouble going back to sleep after mid-sleep break. I was precribed Zaleplon which only lasts in the system for about an hour that I take at that mid-sleep break. I go right back to sleep and don't need the afternoon naps any longer. I only put one pill by my bedside so if I don't take it, I know the next morning. My sleep doc's goal is to re-train the body to get the sleep we all need and taking shorter and shorter acting meds really helped me. Good luck!

      June 8, 2011 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
  6. Dex

    Benzo and non-Benzo addictions make people emotionally immature, psychologically confused & ineffective at life. As does chronic use of alcohol, pot, etc, etc. But of course all those things produce a high that feels pretty damn good for a minute and that is hard to walk away from. Anyone can sleep well by completely eliminating caffeine from their diet. People make money from the above and market them to victims. Get a grip people.

    June 7, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Many of us take beta blockers for blood pressure control. They tend to block the body's normal production of melitonan which leads to insomnia. Therefore, we need some help to get to sleep and stay asleep.

      September 18, 2013 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • Sleepless in Ohio

      Dex, don't you think you are being pretty harsh? I've used clonazepam for several years. I am not ineffective in life, nor do I use clonazepam as a means to 'feel good' or 'get high' rather than to just get some shut eye, and be able to fall back to sleep once I wake up, several times / night. As soon as I start to feel that strange feeling, I shut off the tv, and go to sleep rather than lay and enjoy the 'high'. You are suggesting that all people are using just to get that feeling and it's untrue. I don't drink caffeine past 11am, ever. I work hard all day, but cannot stay asleep at night. I found what you said harsh and very judgemental for people you don't know. Not cool!! It's a wonderful medication for many things. It also keeps my jaws relaxed during the night, stops my restless leg and keeps my anxiety mild the next day. It's a wonder drug, if not abused!

      February 23, 2014 at 22:20 | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony

    Everyone take your medicine so you can ignore your health issues caused by things you can most likely control in your life, but don't want to because a doctor feeds it to you, rather than offering good advise, such as diet and lifestyle changes. It's no different than the person who takes blood pressure medicine, but feels its okay to enjoy fast food everyday and shuns an active lifestyle, but wonders why they are sluggish, tired, overweight, sick, and struggling to make sense of why they think they feel so much more uncomfortable than other people around them. You are not predisposed to sleep issues, you have casted this and it can be undone with lifestyle changes. I had insomnia for over 10 years and refused to take medicine for it because I knew it was my fault. When i started exercising and eating right it vanished within a year. When I stopped, it all came back in a year. If it hasn't worked for you, you aren't working hard enough at it. Sweet Dreams!

    June 7, 2011 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bobby

    I stopped taking Ativan 2 years ago cause it made depressed and drousy in the morning. I have been taking a GABA supplement that supposed to pass the brain/blood barrier, it seems to be helpful.. It is called Pharma GABA from Natural Factors.

    June 7, 2011 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Percy

    I travel frequently and when I arrive I usually have very little opportunity to adjust to jet lag having to be functional the very next day. I cannot sleep on airplanes, even when I fly business or first class. My wife and all our friends are Doctors. I tried literally every sleeping medication in the world, including Melatonin but they either didn't work, left me super groggy the next day or left a horrible taste in my mouth. I consulted many different Doctors and Pharmacists. Finally after 20 years I tried an off patent older drug called Triazolam with an exceptionally low half life of just a few hours. I couldn't believe that it actually worked. I have to be careful to only use it for up to 3 weeks max or I become dependent but usually it's only 3 or 4 days and it works like amazingly well. I hope this helps someone in a similar situation.

    June 7, 2011 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sleepless in Texas

    I think that we should all be careful to not judge people that use medications. I have had issues with insomnia for years. I underwent a sleep study, used a CPAP for a time, and used Ambien to help with the difficulty that I was having using the CPAP and being able to sleep with it. I was eventually taken off the CPAP, but the sleep difficulties remained. I've tried discontinuing the Ambien and decreasing the dosage more than once, and my sleep quality suffers. I've tried using HTP-5 Tryptophan, as well as other safe, natural remedies, and I've tried Melatonin, all to no avail. I don't particularly *want* to have to rely on sleeping medication, however, I must sleep. So, it's a Catch-22 at the moment. But I don't think I deserve anyone's judgment because I do what I must, to get the sleep that I must have. It's easy to judge and criticize when you're not there, and not in that position. Rather than trying to place blame on the individuals that use sleep aids, try a little understanding. It goes a long way.

    June 7, 2011 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SoundGuy

      You don't need sleeping pills! Here's a tip to help you reach a deep sleep, fast. Listen to sounds of nature using comfortable headphones and pay attention to every detail very carefully. Sounds of nature are flowing, but at the same time very random, so that you can't anticipate anything. This helps you to keep focused on the sounds, rather than wonder off with some other thoughts (conscious or unconscious), which might me preventing you from relaxing and thus falling asleep. Sites such as TranscendentalTones offer those kinds of sounds, which you can easily download to your mp3 player.

      June 8, 2011 at 02:21 | Report abuse |
    • jimbob

      I agree with Sleepless that Anthony can suck an egg. I shattered my L2 8 yrs ago. I have chronic pain, and back spasms that cause very unrestful sleep. I started taking Ambien 5 or 6 yrs ago with good results. I also suffered from the narcoleptic adventures if I had been drinking wine with the ambien, but am usually at home. I recently moved across the US and being between Doctors has let my prescription lapse. I tried in vain last week to get a stopgap with no solution. I am now on my 5th day of no more than 3-4 hours of interrupted sleep(none for the first 2 days at all) I get up once or twice each night, I wake up at 4 and cant go back to sleep. I don't want to be dependent on a medication and I am going to suffere thru this to the end... wish me luck

      June 14, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Very well said! Im in the same boat as you.

      November 16, 2013 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. Yes

    Best thing for sleep is to have no money worries.

    June 7, 2011 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KA

      amen on that thought:)

      June 14, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  12. Heath

    I have been taking Lunesta for two years now and have not had to increase the dose....nor have I noticed any problems with being tired the next day...unless I wake up before the recommended 8 hours of sleep.

    June 8, 2011 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LG

      I agree. I've never had issues with Lunesta. Although I'll only take it 2-3 nights in a row. Never woke up groggy. Sonata has also been great for me. After trying basically every natural remedy, avoiding caffeine, exercising more, cognitive behavioral therapy, I was finally prescribed sleep meds. Sonata is great because it's shorter acting. It's great if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep but you have to wake up in 5 hours so you can't take a Lunesta. I've never felt groggy, sleepy, or the hangover effect that I sometimes get from Klonopin.

      June 8, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse |
  13. Elizabeth

    Exercise! The body needs to move to release energy and stress. I thought I had insomnia for a few years, turns out I was just sedentary.

    June 8, 2011 at 02:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sarah

    I recently stopped consuming ALL caffeine and found that within 2 weeks time I am sleeping better than ever! I never used to think that caffeine effected me but it turns out it really did.

    June 8, 2011 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. sissy

    I rejected my sleep med. prescribed because of halucinations. I have been suffering from severe phn for 1&1/2 yrs. I take gabapentin and hydroco/ibu. I hate drugs and I'm the kind of person who rarely even took otc drugs. I don't drink or smoke. My activities are limited by the pain. Even going for a walk around the block makes my pain even worse. Reading helps me get sleepy. Then I just close my eyes and imagine I'm sleeping on a gently rocking houseboat. When a negative thought enters my mind, I just remind myself to think about it later. My problem is, the pain wakes me frequently during the night. I'm only 59. Could I qualify for disability? My life is so bad I am suffering. Sometimes I can barely hold a conversation. One specialist wanted to give me spinal shots at $600. each. At best these are a temporary solution. I am desperate for help.

    June 8, 2011 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • opoT

      I've had many cortisone epidural injections, maybe 8-10 overall. It didn't work. None of them did. The good news is that the body heals most of the condition(s) most of the time. But the older you get, the longer it takes. And if your healing, but you reinjure or aggravate the problem, it becomes pure misery.

      I've had a minimally invasive back surgery, which worked until I got rear-ended. It can get better though, so don't give up hope!

      June 8, 2011 at 04:19 | Report abuse |
    • opoT

      I forgot to mention that I think you have a qualifiable disability for sure. Some people find a lawyer to "push" their claim for a better success rate. In my case, he gets a percentage only if I am awarded compensation. And it's not a lot of money. With gas and food prices heading upwards, it'll still be a struggle to make ends meet.

      Good luck to you.

      June 8, 2011 at 04:25 | Report abuse |
    • DR

      Be cautious of ESI's or even oral steroids. I've had chronic LBP for years which resulted in surgery in 2003 which relieved the pressure on the nerve but obviously does not repair the nerve damage. After having several ESI's and oral dose packs of cortisone over the years, I was diagnosed with AVN of the right femur. I am asymptomatic but was shocked over the incidental finding on an MRI in 2008. By no means did any doctor ever over prescribe the steroids but even one dose can lead to AVN of any joint.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:40 | Report abuse |
  16. opoT

    Unfortunately, I know this stuff all too well. The insomnia, the anxiety (severe), depression, alcohol binges, and the list goes on.

    I've been on the Ambien for 12 years. Every night. At least one. Now, 2 or maybe even 3 for me to feel sleepy enough to doze off. I'm almost impossible to sedate. I just had a endoscopy and colonoscopy (same day), and the doctor had to administer the sedatives 3 times. He looked a little startled when I was competent after 2 bangs.

    The Ambien made me sleep-eat really badly. I would raid the fridge and clean it out. I'd also leave a huge mess behind, only to find dirty dishes, cups, tupperware, and forks the next morning left on the counter. Often, I didn't put the milk back in the fridge. It looked like bear raided a campsite. And guess what; I remember NONE of it! I've been taking clonazepam too. I'm on and off with amitryptaline, and also on Zoloft. I won't get into it, but let's just assume all of life's major stressors have hit me at the same time. Somehow, I'm in great physical shape. I'm an unemployed teacher, going on 3 years now. So I go to the gym a lot if I'm not job-searching. I also tried Lunesta, but my co-pay was ridiculous, and it didn't work for me. So I went back to Ambien. It's frequent that I will wake up after 2-3 hours, and take another one to go back to sleep. I tried Ambien CR to counteract that, but I can't even fall asleep on that. I've also had auto accidents from dozing off at the wheel, often after laying in bed all night without even falling asleep. It's tough, because once you realize that you are having trouble falling asleep, you get more anxious, which then makes sleeping impossible.

    Insomnia can ruin your life in every respect. I inherited it from my mom, and her mom had it bad too. My brother and I suffer from it. I'm 50 now. But I was an insomniac as a little kid. I could always go to sleep later, but I could never go to sleep sooner. It messed me up in school from 2nd grade until senior year. In college, it was not as bad, but I never signed up for any early morning classes. Plus, I drank myself to sleep. My GPA would be .5 higher had I slept normally throughout my academic life. It got so bad sometimes as a kid, I would raid my mom's prescription antihistamine "Dimetapp" (sp?) and take it when she was in the shower or something.

    I still have an epic battle ahead. But I know I need help, and I'm getting it, so that's 2 major starting blocks I've checked off. Good luck to anyone who battles with these kind of issues; it's not fun at all.

    June 8, 2011 at 04:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. tiffany

    You definitely have a disability case. No one should be suffering your level of pain. My pain dr. Is great.
    I used binder and binder. I got my disability in 7 months without seeing a judge. They did it all. I highly recommend them and good luck to you.

    June 8, 2011 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bubba

    I sleep like a baby: crying and wetting myself with a bottle in my hand.

    June 8, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jimbo

    Go do some serious physical excersising if your body will allow it for an hour or 2 every evening, take a warm shower, and finally smoke a big fatty....I'm pretty sure you will fall asleep.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      lol sorry didnt think that was gonna post to just you thought it was gonna post to everyone

      June 8, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
  20. Adam

    I take 2 MG of Klonopin and 45 MG of remeron, and i sleep like a baby all night long. My anxiety, stress levels, and depression have all been suppressed. Also with me getting better sleep and a deeper REM cycle i feel more refreshed and less despressed. Getting the most out of your sleep and getting a full deep REM cycle is very important to your mental and physical health.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. john

    This is insane! WHY do americans take so many drugs? It's completely crazy that it's gone so far...

    June 8, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dude

    Trazadone, 50 mg works well, no hangover effects.

    June 8, 2011 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. gettys

    Adam, benzos actually inhibit (not enhance) REM sleep.

    June 8, 2011 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. kalikim

    This writer can stuff it on insomnia advice and has obviously NEVER suffered from the physical, mental, and emotional affects of chronic lack of sleep. I have a degree in psychology and have suffered with insomnia since I was a teenager. I've trie all natural herbs, benadryl, hot milk and go to a psychiatrist who refuses to prescribe me anything to help me sleep!!! I have had both a physical and nervous breakdown due to my lack of sleep. Klonapin, trazadone, ambien, all work fantastic, when I was able to get samples. After six years sober i've gone back to drinking 2 glasses of wine before bed because I am sooo F*$#*%# desparate for some kind of rest!!! I HAVE ZERO RESPECT FOR IDIOT FAMILY DOCTORS AND PSYCHIATRISTS WHO REFUSE TO HELP PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 21:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chrissy

      I AM IN THE SAME SHAPE!!!I HAVE BEEN SOBER OFF 80 MLGS OF LIQUID METHADONE 4 2 WKS ,NO MORE WITHDRAWS BUT I HAVE SEVERE INSOM NIA,I HAVE ALWAYS HAD TPO HAVE SOMETHING TO KNOCK ME OUT!!!!! I HAVE SLEPT MAYBE 8 HRS IN THE PAST 2 WKS AND ALSO MY DR. PRESCRIBED ME 2 MLGS LUNESTA AND 2 MLGS REQUIP AND I STILL CANT SLEEP!!!!!!

      April 22, 2013 at 10:10 | Report abuse |
  25. RaZZZ

    A natural sleep option is Valerian Root. It has been used in European countries as an over-the-counter insomnia remedy. The effects of Valerian on the body are similar to those of benzodiazepine, which is the active ingredient in most sleeping pills. The main difference however, is that you won’t feel any dulling effects or lethargy the next day like you get from prescription sleeping pills.
    Valerian should be taken about an hour to an hour and a half before bedtime. You’ll need to be patient with this one. To see results may take up to one month. But at that point, the effects should slowly and steadily increase over time. You can find loads more tips and natural remedies for getting good quality sleep in the ebook Get To Sleep Now! Download it at http://instantlyfallasleep.com
    Note of Caution: Valerian root can conflict with other prescription medications including antihistamines and sedatives as well as other prescription sleep meds. People with liver problems should also not take Valerian root.
    As with any of the recommendations in this book, check with your local doctor before taking any natural or herbal remedies.

    June 8, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jeffery

    Thought you might find this interresting.

    June 10, 2011 at 05:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Susan

    I find it very disturbing to see so many people in this comments section taking Benzos and Z drugs. You have no idea the fire you are playing with. I invite you all to go to any Benzo Support website and read story after story of how these drugs have ruined peoples lives when taken as directed.

    I took Xanax and later Ativan for sleep and my life is over. The withdrawal is debilitating, it has left me helpless as an infant and in worse physical pain than you can even fathom for 4 months so far. The recovery is 6-18 months long and is torturous.

    Thousands of us were active happy people and are now homebound and have lost our livelyhoods. It can also happen with Ambien, Klonopin, or Valium -and in as little as just 4 weeks dependance can develop. It is not worth it people. We benzo prescription victims are suffering horribly, just horribly.

    June 11, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tom Baitz

    As a director of a sleep clinic, I had a similar but opposite case. J.F., an elderly man, was constantly sleep, despite fairly normal PSG,s etc. One day his granddaughter came with him and offered an explanation. I was sceptical (we never should be people are often very right!) until I heard the story. Grandpa takes all his pills in the morning – including his sleeping pills! But seriously, idiopathic insomnia – worsening with age, even without daytime snooze, needs resolution and a lot of effort to use the right choices. Tom Baitz

    June 11, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. fran

    I AM DESPARATE AS WELL AS A TERRIBLE TYPIST. AFTER 20 TO 25 YEARS OF TAKING & LOVING AMBIEN I REALIZED IT WAS HAVING MODERATE TO SEVERE MEMORY LOSS. MY MEMORY HAS IMPROVED BUT EVERY
    OTHER SLEEP MED I TAKE EITHER DOES NOT WORK OR I END UP SLEEPING ALL DAY.

    June 12, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Susie

    I bought a pill cutter (at my Dr.'s suggestion) the very day I had my script filled for Ambien, btw, they gave me a generic version. I take 1/4 pill. I do wake up before the alarm, but that is ok, only about 30 min. or so. My father-in-law takes the chonazapam and he does have signs of dementia and we have been wondering if that is part of the reason. Esp. since sometimes he takes more than 1 pill a night.

    June 23, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. deemarie

    I hear Gabapentin is good.
    "Gabapentin has no known abuse potential, has few side effects, does not require blood monitoring, and does not affect liver metabolism or the excretion of other medications. The mechanism of action for gabapentin is unknown. It may influence the synthesis of -aminobutyric acid and glutamate. These systems are known to modulate anxiety, arousal, and sleep. Gabapentin may also increase deep sleep (stages 3 and 4) by increasing serotonin levels."

    I'm trying to switch my 88y/o (stroke/vascular dementia/insomnia) from .5mg lorazepam to gabapentin.

    I've had insomnia since kicking heroin in '79 and then methadone in '92. Both getting and staying asleep. I wake every 2hrs. For the past year I'd been using 25mg. hydroxyzine. I stopped after finding out it's anticholinergic.

    Wellbutrin worked for my insomnia and burning hip and old herniated disk/Sciatica pain. But it was too expensive. I hear the generics are no good.

    Me and my insomnia have evolved over the years tho. I've gone from freaking out all night long, to tossing turning anger, to total depressing defeat, to big deal. I some where along the way stopped fighting it. :o)

    June 28, 2011 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. sam

    And dont drink any ALCOHOL either

    July 19, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. John

    I found a lot of useful information at http://www.thingstohelpyousleep.org

    February 15, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Veronica p

    I have been taking ambien for about 7 years now . Asking 1 doesn't do the job anymore. Like several others I've raided the fridg and mad messes i dont even remember. And sad to say some other things I'm ashamed to admit and hope no one finds out.......which the stress from that revalaltion alone is keeping wide awake...never the less I work the midnight shift and have for many years....and I must say I have never gotten use to them. I suffer from depression also and the ambien makes it so much worse. So I try to stop taking it and go to 4 mg's larazapme and do the ambien when I have to get to sleep fast. Or I'll take 1 larazapme 2 mg for my axiety and 10 mg of ambien to help me sleep I feel my life is one vicious circle. I work from 11 pm. Till 7am every day and sometime 10 hrs a day and saturday......I just want to get off this pill rolloacoaster I've tried natural stuff but my body is already geared up for pills. I'm tired all the time irritable, depressed and not to mention my memory is SHOT...and I I have blood pressure problems.....and a mentally and emoitionally abusive husband and dept beyond what I will ever be able to pay

    October 6, 2012 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Veronica p

    Forgot to mention I just started to wear eye mask which seems to help blocking out light for sleep but I still have to take something weather it be ambien or lorazepam

    October 6, 2012 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. MITE

    LORD, LORD HELP US ALL. I TOO HAVE SEVERE INSOMNIA TRIED ALL THE ABOVE. BRAIN WILL NOT SHUT OFF WITH OUT TAKING SOMETHING. iF I DON'T TAKE SOMETHING I GET A POUNDING IN MY HEAD. I 'VE GONE FOR MANY NIGHTS WITH OUT SLEEP. TRYNG NOT TO TAKE SLEEPING PILLS. DR PRESCRIBED AMBIEN, TRAZODONE, ALL WORSEN MY ACID RELUX. DAME IF YOU DO, DAME IF YOU DON'T. I WILL KEEP PRAYING FOR US ALL MAYBE ONE DAY THEY WILL FIND A CURE..

    February 18, 2013 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Gloria

    Here's wishing all a good nights sleep, it has eluded me for years. I tried herbs and melatonins, alcohol, warm baths and milk, white sound and I keep going back to Ambien. Without it I cannot sleep...My doctor has halved my dose, down to 5mg and I decided to take only half a pill at night. I don't always get a sound or long sleep but it is enough to allow me to dose off. I too have difficulty shutting my mind off. I hope someone will come up with something that helps without being habit forming or harmful to the body.

    October 10, 2013 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.