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

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  1. 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
  2. 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 |
  3. 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 |
    • Tyler

      You've got it all figured out – and you will reaffirm this on your death bed ~ because you still agree with your fading selfs. Everything is as it was, and every thought is teased out and betrayed by emotion. Struggling to sleep, you pray to the personal trainers and begin to run away from your insomnia with some cardio. Of course it worked, everyone is just like you. You have sat on mount Olympus with the original cross fit gods, and this qualifies you. No, morally obliges you to share your workout journal and kale smoothie recipes from upon high. And definitely with these weak minded – drug addicted deadbeats who can't exercise and eat healthy and take prescriptions to regulate their internal cycles. Did we establish that eating well and exercising is negatively correlated to taking benzos? Are people receiving medical attention some how unable to take care of themselves holistically? I mean, you do know everything about everyone on a drug you took temporarily. Thanks for sharing the good word, I will looking for you on the street corner screaming at all the sinners like every other quack with all the answers.

      October 30, 2015 at 11:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jorja

      There are many people that need to take sleeping pills due to medical issues, not to get a "high". I myself have restless legs and periodic limb movement disorder and can't sleep without them. Before I started taking them I was getting more tired every day and it was starting to affect my health. Don't comment on things you obviously know nothing about.

      January 9, 2016 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      Geez Dex . It would be great to know everything you know. You might think you’re an expert, but everyone is different. Let people work out what is best for them.

      August 15, 2018 at 06:36 | Report abuse |
    • Glenna McMahan

      Hey there Dex. I don't use caffeine at all during the day after my one cup of Joe early in the morning. I truly suffer from chronic insomnia, in that I only get a couple, maybe three hours of sleep EVERY night. If I do fall asleep, I wake up several times anyway. Are you suggesting that giving up my one regular cup of coffee at 6am – is all I have to do to get over my insomnia? Wow. You must be some kinda god. I'd like to extend a cordial invitation to you, to kiss my a**

      January 27, 2019 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      It’s not so simple as that. Natural is absolutely the way, but to suggest that with all the science and knowledge avail, that one persons physiology is like the next guys, it’s not so. Too much is avail to help relieve people of very real ailments . Granted I’m not condoning addiction or over use etc, but meds can most assuredly assist people in a better quality of life. I do agree that the vast majority of those who take meds, there is a lack of insight and self awareness that can lead down the wrong path. Absolutely. But let’s not group the whole bunch of us into a category where meds are either a dulling of the mind or will lead to uncertain cognitive abilities. Yes, I recognize this is inevitable w the sheer billions on the planet. It exists , but there are some educated folks who take caution along , take heed and are self aware enough to realize when something isn’t effective in a more reasonable way. It’s helpful too if family spouses etc are also paying attention and using their brain to realize when something’s not exactly right. We don’t want a stuporous society! Def, agree. That’s a scary notion and I’m afraid it won’t ever be remedied. But with a little support and education and understanding , we can at least have meds work in the way they are meant for a good portion of us who take responsibility with these drugs.

      March 28, 2020 at 19:15 | Report abuse |
  4. 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
    • Jorja

      Not all sleep problems can be cured by exercise and proper nutrition. I have RLS and PLMD which have gotten worse over time through no fault of my own. These require medication to sleep or sleep deprivation can cause even worse issues.

      July 8, 2015 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      You've got it all figured out – and you will reaffirm this on your death bed ~ because you still agree with your fading selfs. Everything is as it was, and every thought is teased out and betrayed by emotion. Struggling to sleep, you pray to the personal trainers and begin to run away from your insomnia with some cardio. Of course it worked, everyone is just like you. You have sat on mount Olympus with the original cross fit gods, and this qualifies you. No, morally obliges you to share your workout journal and kale smoothie recipes from upon high. And definitely with these weak minded – drug addicted deadbeats who can't exercise and eat healthy and take prescriptions to regulate their internal cycles. Did we establish that eating well and exercising is negatively correlated to taking benzos? Are people receiving medical attention some how unable to take care of themselves holistically? I mean, you do know everything about everyone on a drug you took temporarily. Thanks for sharing the good word, I will be looking for you on the street corner screaming at all the sinners like every other quack with all the answers

      October 30, 2015 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • Iain- Andrew of Machrihanish Mull of Kintyre Scotland.

      Well said Anthony you managed to eloquently put into words almost exactly what I was screaming at my monitor while reading a lot of the comments these confused souls are making.
      Folks! The majority of these ailments and so-called medical conditions are upheld and promoted by GPs and Docs due to massive bounties bonuses and sweaty backhanders from the pharmaceutical industry. They invent these wonder drugs in the first place and need a market to sell them to at a massive Mark up which in turn allows their greedy corporations to become more powerful allowing the process of research and development to Begin Again on another version of some drugs we already have. Instead of promoting these drugs, the doctor's should be doing what my doctor used to do and give you a telling off and a few strong words of advice along the lines of Get a Grip of yourself, rather than just prescribing another drug they should provide more advice. You are all victims of our modern lifestyle and the bad habit Society now has for labelling every single little thing. restless leg syndrome as an example as a result of either caffeine or additives such as E numbers or stimulants like your energy drinks with taurine etc all this junk lies in your body and may cause you to fidget or may cause your mind to race which in turn will prevent you from falling asleep. And because this makes you worry about not getting to sleep and the various thoughts racing around your head you're then told you have anxiety issues or insomnia or depression etc etc when really Anthony previously said sort out your diet and what you spend your time doing each day none of these things caused any problems for our ancestors back when life consisted of working eating sleeping and trying to get some time with your loved ones before beginning the next day instead of spending the majority of our time at computer monitor or televisions or on mobile phones broadband internet etc which only pollutes your body with microwaves and other nasty things instead of reading a book just before you go sleep not playing Angry Birds for 2 hours while watching soap operas and pouring kappa mocha frappe cappuccino or whatever the latest tipple is, down your throat 500ml at a time. you'll soon realise that you're getting to sleep just fine without the wonder of pills try a little exercise if your general employment is not physical and I don't mean stick your earphones in and running on a treadmill for 2 hours I mean find somewhere with grass trees and wildlife and take a gentle stroll around it looking at all the beautiful things we have on this earth believe me a quiet stroll is all you need to calm your mind and then maybe a warm drink of milk with some natural honey for your bed and you will fall asleep believe me your body is programmed to do it without any prompting from you just let it happen it's just because of too much interference in your body's natural Cycles that you have these problems and the cure is not to take a pharmaceutically produced tablet every day for the rest of your life that is not a cure nor is it a remedy it is another problem that you do not need I have seen people come off of benzodiazepines and sleepers and kicking a heroin habit which is said to be one of the worst experiences anyone can go through and believe me the two didn't seem that different both were in their own ideas of hell the only way to avoid it is to keep taking the pills which is enabling your problem as is your doctor and enabling the prophets 4 GlaxoSmithKline or Pfizer are the various other names that are all ultimately owned by the same group of people seriously people look to the past for the answer simplify your life calm your mind and love your neighbour and you will all manage your difficulties a lot better. That's me finished ranting I tell thee I'm ready for a sleep after that haha peace and unity my brothers and sisters I hope you all manage to accomplish everything you set out to achieve and conquer your demons and to anyone with any kind of restless syndrome I did not mean to cause any offence I was merely using that as an example please do not take it personally thanks y'all
      Ps to bill
      I know what you're going through mate I have been there you've done the hardest bit just keep your eyes on the Prize and you will get there mate you've probably been told this already but one of the most important things is to try and recognise your triggers and have an action plan for avoiding those particular things all the best buddy

      November 18, 2018 at 06:04 | Report abuse |
  5. 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
    • Everyone

      That garbage doesn't pass the blood-brain barrier. You don't have a clue what you're talking about.

      September 9, 2014 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      WOW! I have EXTREME Anxiety and would replace this with drinking beer and over time it was increasing and guess what happen then??? BOOM! My muscles especially in my calves after working in 100deg weather for 12 hrs cramp up and my back went out! This took almost a 2 weeks to stop! I also take clonazepam and have for years, it has saved my life, but I want to get off it. I seen this great post from you Bobby and will be ordering Pharma GABA asap! I also use magnesium calm powder at night with warm tea this helps to, but the next day I feel weird, cant explain and almost feel sick at times, might just be so don't go off this. Since my body shut down, I'm cured but going through some PTS from it all, and NO beers and withdraw from this, what a mess and one of the worst moments in my life! I usually VERY healthy and don't drink allot, ,but had some new stress over the last 6 month and was drinking more and more beers, beer alone is super bad for you too.

      August 29, 2018 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
  6. 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
  7. 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 |
    • Victoria Grayson

      I know how you feel. I've suffered from insomnia for years. I tried melatonin. I tried running three miles a night. Heck I even increased it to five. I bought CD's with nature sounds, eating turkey and warm milk. After my fifth night with no sleep, I went to a doctor. He had never seen someone with such a tough time sleeping. It's been 20 years. My problem now is that he has me on Seroquel and Trazadone, and I have a terrible hangover problem. My energy level went to zero. I've gained 40 pounds which is highly unusual for me. For someone to say, just exercise, is BS. Try exercising after taking a few sleeping pills. If anyone has any suggestions for other medicines, please share. I tried Lunesta and Depakote, but both made me lose my hair. I am so ashamed of the weight gain, that I don't socialize except at work. It is ruining my life and depressing me.

      August 7, 2014 at 21:34 | Report abuse |
    • Paige Rideout

      I agree with you, Sleepless! It's a "Thing." If it were as easy as listening to relaxing music, I'd be all over it.

      People who aren't in our situation cannot understand what it's like.

      September 24, 2015 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  8. 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 |
  9. 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 |
  10. 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
    • Jorja

      There are some things that exercise unfortunately won't cure.....RLS and PLMD. I used to be fit and thin but when you're exhausted from lack of sleep it's pretty hard to exercise. Sleep deprivation also messes with your metabolism. Just starting treatment for my sleep issues and hoping to be rested again some day.

      July 8, 2015 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
  11. 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
  12. 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 |
  13. 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
    • Anna Sams

      I myself have takin ambien a few times and it did nothing for me. I even tried 2 one night and even 3 the next. Did not help at all. I wonder why???

      March 27, 2015 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • Elise

      Just had to reply to you-even as a baby my mom said I wouldn't sleep and cried so much we were thrown out of apartments- we had a stresssful (aka abusive) childhood so I suppose I always needing to be ready for the next 'adventure' but even as a grown married woman with a kind, tender hearted husband, the insomnia has only become worse in adulthood-I'm writing this at 4am waiting for some sleep...it ain't coming...but I just had to share with you, you are not alone. I just found this blog and have so much empathy for everyone here, but your story touched my heart and resonated with me. May you, we both find some relief!

      March 24, 2017 at 06:58 | Report abuse |
  14. 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
    • Name*deb

      I am a retired nurse that worked shifts for years. Started Clonazepam 1mg about 17 years ago. Then after 8 years went to 2mg. It is the only drug I have found to "shut my brain off". I now need something else but my Dr doesn't have an answer. Psychiatrist had no good ideas, so I fight insomnia every night. After two to three nights without sleep I am almost suicidal. Any new ideas?

      February 21, 2018 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  15. 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
  16. 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 |
    • Jorja

      I've been told that some of the edible products are very good for sleep........I need to see what my Dr. thinks about this.

      January 9, 2016 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  17. 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
    • Oleg

      I am just curious if you still take Klonopin for sleep and how long you been taking it for? I've been on it for about 3 month and I feel like it's not as potent as it used to be. I am on .75 before bed and able to get only 2-3 hours of sleep.

      December 13, 2015 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
  18. 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
  19. Dude

    Trazadone, 50 mg works well, no hangover effects.

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

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

    June 8, 2011 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 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


      April 22, 2013 at 10:10 | Report abuse |
  22. 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
  23. Jeffery

    Thought you might find this interresting.

    June 10, 2011 at 05:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 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
    • Natasha

      Hi Susan,
      I agree that benzos are harmful. But what can I do if I cannot sleep even with Trazodone. So I take .5 Ativan and I sleep. Is it better not to sleep at all?

      March 10, 2015 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • Jorja

      I have RLS and PLMD and can't sleep without taking Clonazepam. My sleep Dr. tried the Parkinson medications first but they made my symptoms much, much worse. I am thinking about talking to him soon about edible medical marijuana since I have allergies and can't stand any kind of smoke. I wish I could sleep without taking something!

      January 9, 2016 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
  25. 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
  26. fran


    June 12, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 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
    • Annst

      Don't follow Dr orders for withdrawing from an addictive or dependency-causing drug. Do it this way:
      First month, use scissors to cut a *little bit* off the pill. Not ¼.
      Second month, same but cut more off.
      Third month, same but cut more off.
      Keep going.

      It took me a year to get off of a certain antidepressant whose name I've forgotten, but doing it the above way I never had withdrawal symptoms. I was in a Web group of other ppl who couldn't get off it. One guy ended up killing himself. I wish I could remember its name, but it's not Clonazepam or Ambien or any other drug mentioned above.
      Before I used my method, I went to a psychiatrist to see how I should withdraw. She said do it over a month: cut off ¼ of the pill for a week, then next week another ¼, and so on. I didn't have w/d symptoms, but the first day after my last pill, I was manic (I'm not bipolar). The 2nd day I was very depressed. 3rd & 4th, depressed. On the 5th day I went into a rage. Everything made me angry. I stayed in a rage for 3 months and then went back on the med & felt fine. After a few months, I tapered off using my method. It took about a year, but I never had any of those horrible withdrawal symptoms.

      I'm currently withdrawing from hydrocodone the same way. Started taking it bc I had pain all over for no reason. So far (6 weeks - I'm down to ½ a pill twice a day) I haven't had any withdrawal or whole-body pain.

      PS: I can only sleep well if I'm very depressed. I take Trazodone to get to sleep and Clonazepam (without which I have the most godawful nightmares), but if I have to get up & go to the bathroom I can't get back to sleep for about 4 hrs. Then I sleep till 2, 3, 4:00 in the afternoon. This leaves me no time to take care of business. Fortunately I'm retired, but this is getting to be a drag.

      November 5, 2018 at 21:20 | Report abuse |
  28. 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
  29. sam

    And dont drink any ALCOHOL either

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

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

    February 15, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 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
    • Annst

      Get rid of the husband. I had one of those controllers who alienated my friends and reminded me how stupid I was every day. Finally after 7½ years I left him. It took me 2 years to get back enough confidence to be able to carry on a conversation with anyone.

      November 5, 2018 at 21:29 | Report abuse |
  32. 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
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  34. 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
    • Joanna

      Jujube fruit is a supplement from vitamin stores. It has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Its sole purpose is to calm the mind. No side effects, no sedation, so can be used day or night. Very inexpensive. I've used it for about 5 years when I have a busy or repeating mind.

      November 3, 2018 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
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  37. dizzy

    I drink liquor to get to sleep. Sometimes I eat a Valium and through 6 shots of vodka back. works every time.

    August 30, 2014 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Russ Bannister

    Hi... I'd like some response to this product if have any users out there... I have taken a new (I think) sleep aid Somnapure for two straight nights. The morning after the 1st was fine but I was up several times... didn't keep me asleep. Last night, I slept for 5 hours straight and woke up feeling completely hung over... it is 1:30 pm and I feel the same. I was told on the bottle to take 2 pills....ingredients: Valerian extract (root) 500mg, Lemon balm extract (leaf) 300 mg, L-Theanine 200 mg, hops extract (strobile) 120 mg, chasmomile flower extract 50 mg, passion flower extract (aerial 50 mg, melatonin 3mg. None of these match any ingredients I read about in other sleep aids... Any comments? Thanks

    November 18, 2014 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. docsoon

    ughh I hate bad medicine, and "dr" shives has no idea what she is talking about. Any doctor who prescribes benzos for daily use is a hack, you should run from them.....or run to them if you are a drug seeker. Benzo's are useful as part of the ciwaa protocol, a pre surgical relaxant, emergency situations, and as a rescue option for folks with crippling panic attacks. No physician should be prescribing them for anything else.

    March 8, 2015 at 03:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Natasha

    Hi, I need help desperately.
    Last year I developed severe health related anxiety and stopped sleeping. I was put on 300 mg of Seroquel which I tapered and stopped within 3 months. For 2 months I was trying to sleep "naturally" but was getting 2.5 or 3 broken hours of sleep. So, in November 2014 I started Trazodone with occasional Ativan. At best times I slept 5.30 – 6 hours but most nights I would wake up at 2 am and has to take additional pill or I would not sleep. I want to be able to sleep naturally but at this point I cannot even sleep through the night with medication. What can I do? I tried all natural remedies (I am taking Tryptophan and melatonin with my Trazodone). What is wrong with me? Can I ever get better/ I really need help. Thanks.

    March 10, 2015 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anna Sams

      I take a klonipin now but I do feel groggy in the morning. I even take it at like 7pm and won't go to bed till midnight sometimes. I just wonder why I don't feel that way after a few hours but I do in the morning? Makes no sense.

      March 27, 2015 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
  41. Glenn

    I just took 70 mg of Klonopin and 80 mg Ambien. I will finally get the rest I need.

    July 15, 2015 at 04:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Adam

    I was taking 1mg clonazipam for sleep ,then ran out of them and only had .25mg ones left , at the same time I was given ambian by my sleep doc, now I have increased palpitations and my heart rate in resting in the mid 50s at nite, could that sudden drop of clonazipam be causing palpitations ar the two meds together

    July 19, 2015 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Kelly

    I work night shift part time, so it's constantly flip flopping when I have to sleep at night versus during the day. Tried to just sleep when tired, didn't work. Over the years have tried melatonin, ambien, hydroxyzepam and clonazepam, sometimes Benadryl. The amnesia from ambien plus a gradual intolerance led to the other meds. Wish I didn't have to take any meds to sleep 😐

    October 1, 2015 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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  50. Nombre

    For anyone still wondering, please stay away from benzodiazepines. The stories are real, the danger is real, the benefits are few and far between. For those suffering and considering benzo treatment, please consider medical marijuana if it is available, or look into a combination of tea and herbs, light excersise in the early daytime and deep breathing. If anxiety comes, remember that even laying there without sleep still helps the body relax and counts for rest. That fact usually helps my brain relax if I can't sleep, and i try to meditate as i lay there to ease into sleep. As many already know, those truly suffering will try anything for relief. Just don't try benzos. They will ruin you.

    January 7, 2017 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cyberclark

      I am 78 years and recently became inflicted with "night terrors" which take the shape of larger purple wheels chasing me or aggressive response to something that turns out to be my headboard when I wake up. Clonazepam is the only thing prescribed by Drs. in Alberta. Apart from my own private circus about 6 hours into my sleep; it spills over to involve me attacking my wife and screaming at her in my sleep which is grossly unfair. I will check my physician on the alternatives mentioned. I think a shorter half-life will improve things.

      April 5, 2018 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
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