Trazodone And CBD Oil For Sleep

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In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not CBD (cannabidiol) interacts with trazodone or Effexor (venlafaxine). Up to 60% of adults have poor sleep a few nights per week. We'll look at how cannabis for sleep can help you. Learn more with this full guide. Can’t Sleep? Learn about insomnia solutions to help you fall asleep and stay asleep including sleep aids, OTC supplements, and sleep hygiene practices.

Does CBD Interact With Trazodone Or Effexor?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not CBD (cannabidiol) interacts with trazodone or Effexor (venlafaxine).

Anna asked

Hello, could you tell me if I can take CBD oil (the bottle contains 500mg pure CBD, one drop contains 1,25 mg) and vitamins/supplements (C,K,B6,B12,B3,magnesium) with these medications: – Effexor 150 mg prolonged release (in the morning)- Trittico (trazodone) 75 mg prolonged release (in the evening)I’m afraid of potential interactions.

Answer

There are a few potential interactions between CBD (cannabidiol) and the two medications in your inquiry, trazodone and Effexor (venlafaxine). Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of data regarding CBD interactions with specific drugs so we often need to extrapolate what we know about how they are metabolized to determine whether or not there are potential drug interactions to be concerned about.

Even then, we don’t know much about CBD in general. We do know that CBD can inhibit certain metabolizing enzymes, a common characteristic of many drug interactions. However, there are many studies that theorize that while CBD does inhibit metabolizing enzymes, it takes extraordinarily large doses to do so and the inhibition is not to a significant extent for most individuals.

Nevertheless, until more studies are completed, CBD should be used cautiously in those taking prescription medications. Below, we discuss CBD and potential drug interactions with trazodone and Effexor in more detail.

What Is CBD (Cannibidiol)?

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a non-euphoric constituent of cannabis, also known as marijuana.

While THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is likely more well-known due to its psychoactive and euphoric effects, CBD makes up almost 40% of many cannabis extracts and has a wide range of potential benefits when used medicinally, although more studies are needed to better understand the compound.

The amounts of CBD used in studies range greatly (from 1 mg to over 600 mg), but there is preliminary positive evidence for a variety of indications, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Seizures
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Insomnia
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Further adding to the potential benefit of CBD, is the fact that it is considered CBD is considered “non-euphoric”, even at high doses. In fact, many studies have shown that when combined with THC, CBD can decrease some unwanted effects, such as cognitive impairment.

CBD has recently has exploded in popularity, with many different products available over the counter. With this, it is important to consider potential drug interactions with prescription medication, such as Effexor and trazodone.

CBD (Cannibidiol) Drug Interactions

The two main constituents of marijuana, THC and CBD, are known to be metabolized by the cytochrome P450 system, the major enzymes involved in drug metabolism. Specifically, studies have shown that CBD can inhibit:

Metabolizing enzyme inhibition often leads to increased concentrations of drugs that are typical substrates for a particular enzyme. The majority of prescription medications are metabolized by CYP enzymes, therefore potential interactions are plentiful.

Effexor – CBD (Cannibidiol) Interaction

Effexor (venlafaxine) is extensively metabolized by the CYP2D6 enzyme. Interestingly enough, Effexor is metabolized to O-desmethylvenlafaxine, which is equally potent in terms of effects to venlafaxine. Changes to CYP2D6 are not thought to have a significant effect on how well the medication works. In fact, the prescribing information says this about the drug:

. studies indicate that the formation of ODV (O-desmethylvenlafaxine) is catalyzed by CYP2D6; this has been confirmed in a clinical study showing that patients with low CYP2D6 levels (“poor metabolizers”) had increased levels of venlafaxine and reduced levels of ODV compared to people with normal CYP2D6 (“extensive metabolizers”). The differences between the CYP2D6 poor and extensive metabolizers, however, are not expected to be clinically important because. venlafaxine and ODV are pharmacologically approximately equiactive and equipotent.”

Based on what we know about Effexor metabolism, we wouldn’t expect CBD to significantly affect it. However, there have been a few studies that suggest that there may be an increased risk of side effects in those taking Effexor with low or impaired CYP2D6 levels. Therefore CBD may theoretically increase the risk of certain side effects such as:

Trazodone – CBD Interaction

Trazodone is extensively metabolized by CYP3A4. CBD inhibition of the enzyme may lead to increased trazodone levels, however studies have not confirmed this. If using CBD and trazodone together, watch for potential additive sedation and drowsiness. Before using CBD, it is important to let your doctor know so they can monitor you for potential side effects.

Cannabis for Sleep | Benefits and What to Look Out For

Remember the dreamy feeling of a long, deep, and restful night’s sleep? Why is cannabis for sleep a big deal? How does it affect people? Is cannabis one of the more natural treatment options for sleep problems?

CANNABIS FOR SLEEP. DOES IT HELP?

Sleep should be a nightly reality, not a vague memory. In modern life, sleep is a necessity misrepresented as a luxury. We are biologically dependent upon sleep for not only optional functionality but also some pretty basic biological functions. Our bodies and brains need 8 to 9 hours of sleep per day to reset, restore and repair our bodies and minds. Those 8-9 hours also need to include each of the 5 stages of sleep in proper proportions. (More on the stages of sleep below.) Even one restless night can decrease brain power, reaction time, and physical and mental health performance and cause pain and inflammation. Poor sleep quality also stimulates overeating, contributing to the weight gain often associated with aging. Despite the necessity of good, restorative sleep, 30-60% of adults report having poor sleep several nights a week, and upwards of 60% of women in perimenopause (the often symptomatic time period before the menstrual cycle stops) and menopause report disruptive sleep issues. The causes of primary insomnia, sleeplessness that is not due to medical or environmental causes, can range from a restless, racing mind, to stress-induced release of cortisol. Sometimes, the neurochemicals involved in sleep (serotonin or GABA) can become altered. Sleep also suffers with travel, disruption of routine, new shifts at work and daylight savings. Even a poor or unfamiliar mattress can have an effect on sleep quality.

The use of cannabis for sleep is not a one-size-fits-all solution but is a viable and often powerful sleep aid to combat insomnia. “Among people who use cannabis for medical reasons, such as pain relief, as many as 85% say it improves their sleep.” – Sleep Foundation, March 2022 If you have regular or chronic sleep problems, any natural solution that helps with sleep is worth exploring.

What does the research say?

Cannabinoids + proper dosage + terpenes = Zzzzzzz

Insomnia ranks as a top reason both men and women turn to cannabis for the first time. Many cite dissatisfaction with pharmaceutical sleep aids as a factor for their canna-curiosity. To understand the effects on sleep that cannabis can have, you need to understand the body’s endocannabinoid system. The 1964 discovery of THC (the chemical responsible for the psychoactive experience) and CBD (one of many non-psychoactive components in cannabis) led to the 1988 discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), the largest receptor system and the master regulator of homeostasis in the human body. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for restoring balance to our body’s cognitive, emotional and physical systems when they get out of whack. How does that work? Imbalance stimulates the body’s production of cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids). These endocannabinoids meet with cannabinoid receptors, which are found all over the body. When endocannabinoids meet and match to receptors, the biological result is homeostasis and balance. Yep, this includes balance for the sleep system. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant can play the same key-man role as the endocannabinoids made by the body. Amazing.

Fun fact: Cannabinoid receptors are found on numerous sites in the human body. So many actually, the total number of endocannabinoid receptors in the body is believed to be greater than all other neuro-modulatory receptors found in the body COMBINED.

Guess what? The female reproductive tract is extremely dense with cannabinoid receptors. This makes vaginal suppositories an excellent delivery method for relief.

Cannabinoids: THC and CBD

Now, let’s talk a bit about those cannabinoids THC and CBD. THC was recognized as a sleep aid after studies from the 1970s found to be true what Materia Medica knew in the 1800s. THC has clear sedative effects. THC is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive experience that often characterizes cannabis, but low doses and specific delivery methods can be used without psychoactivity. Small amounts of THC can increase deep sleep or total sleep time. High doses can have the opposite effect.

The effects of CBD are also dose-dependent with low doses providing relaxation and high doses causing alertness. CBD on its own doesn’t usually feel like a sedative, but typically provides physical relaxation, relief from inflammation and pain, and a calming effect on the nervous system. CBD may be just what a body needs to settle and be ready for sleep and can thus be an important part of sleep hygiene.

The powerful effects of cannabis are strongest when dosing is appropriate for the method of delivery and THC and CBD are combined with specific, relaxing plant terpenes.

If cannabinoids are the cake and proper dosing is the icing, then terpenes are the sprinkles on top. Terpenes are molecules in botanicals that make plants taste, smell, and behave in the way they do. Individual terpenes have specific impacts on sleep, mood, and cognition. Some terpenes are stimulating and some are relaxing. Lavender, for example, has large amounts of the terpene linalool. Linalool reduces inflammation, lessens pain, and has a sedative effect. No wonder most spas smell divinely like lavender. When terpenes like linalool and myrcene exist in the cannabis strain being smoked, sleep is likely. Some products, like Hello Again, build their own terpene profiles to provide specific, targeted effects. Hello Again vaginal suppositories combine THC, CBD, and a select profile of terpenes, provided by botanicals like lavender, chamomile, hops and valerian root.

Fun fact: chamomile, thought to be first used in ancient Egypt, has been used for centuries for its calming effect on the nervous system.

Another fun fact: Both Greek physicians Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BCE) and Dioscorides (1st century CE) prescribed Valerian root as a sleep aid. Galen (circa 130-200 CE), the physician to Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, prescribed it for insomnia proving that the use of cannabis for sleeping has stood the test of time.

Other key terpenes for sleep include linalool, myrcene, terpinolene, nerolidol and phytol.

Ways to Consume Cannabis for Sleep

There are many ways to consume marijuana for sleep, but you need to find the method and dosage that works best for you. Inhaled marijuana has a duration of action that lasts 3-4 hours. I often hear from people that they have not been able to do without their sleeping pills when they smoke or vaporize their cannabis. They notice that they still get up in the middle of the night, typically 4 hours after they go to bed. It’s important to use cannabis in a long-acting form, such as suppositories, capsules, or edibles if you find you’re waking up in the middle of the night. Remember to take your cannabis medicine at least half an hour to one hour before you want to sleep as it can take at least that long to take effect depending on the delivery method.

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How you get your THC impacts psychoactivity as well. THC that is ingested or smoked will potentially have a psychoactive effect and onset times will differ Typically, ingested cannabis has a longer, less predictable onset time because it goes through the digestive tract. Smoked cannabis enters the bloodsteam quickly, through the lungs. THC that has contact with your skin will not deliver a psychoactive high. This includes suppositories that are placed inside the vagina or rectum and melt against the skin (and its receptors!) inside the body. This is why Hello Again suppositories are able to use THC, even in high amounts (Hello Again Sleep formula has 20mg!) without the typical psychoactivity. Not interested in psychoactivity? Suppositories and other topicals can utilize higher levels of THC without delivering psychoactive effects. Topicals like creams and patches may take longer to take effect than suppositories because of the difference in skin type and receptor density.

Fun fact: Cannabis has been used since 500 B.C. for textiles and later consumed as medicine for a variety of emotional and physical ailments including insomnia and sleep disorders.

MORE ON SLEEP

There are 5 stages of sleep and within one night, sleepers rotate between non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). Those stages are best described as drowsiness, light sleep, moderate to deep sleep, deepest sleep and dreaming.

STAGE 1: DRIFTING BETWEEN BEING ASLEEP AND AWAKE

  • Light, Non-REM sleep.
  • Short.
  • You may dream.

STAGE 2: LIGHT SLEEP DRIFTING INTO STEADIER SLEEP

  • More relaxation.
  • Body temperature drops.
  • Brain waves will quiet.

STAGE 3: ENTER DEEP SLEEP

  • Breath, heartbeat and temperature are at their lowest
  • Most muscle relaxation. You could be difficult to rouse

STAGE 4: DEEP SLEEP

  • The healing stage of sleep.
  • Tissue growth and repair, cellular restoration

STAGE 5: REM SLEEP

  • 90 minutes after you fall asleep with cycles every 90 minutes.
  • Eye movement, brainwaves, heart rate and blood pressure near waking levels
  • Most likely to dream and thus solidify memories and process emotions
  • Temporary muscular paralysis while dreaming

Deep, restorative sleep accounts for between 12-23% of sleeping hours in healthy adults. So, in an 8 hour sleep, roughly 62-110 minutes are in deep sleep. It is during this phase that memories are consolidated, learning and emotions are processed and physical recovery occurs. Brain detoxification and rejuvenation of the immune system also happen during deep sleep. It is this phase of sleep that accounts for the symptoms of sleep deprivation if consistently shorted.

Compared to Traditional Sleep Aids

Cannabis offers an alternative to pharmaceutical sleep aids. In fact, most new cannabis users cite dissatisfaction with pharmaceutical choices for sleep. Women often experience amplified negative effects from pharmaceutical sleep aids. Lack of proper sleep accounts for a multitude of physical, emotional and cognitive effects. As you devise your sleep strategies, cannabis can be an important tool for overall health.

Risks and Side Effects

Cannabis has been recognized as a helpful sleep aid as use of THC for sleep can have effective results. As with any drug, there are associated risks and side effects.

Tolerance can affect Efficacy Chronic, high-dose, long-term THC use can result in sleep disturbance. Cannabis can also decrease in efficacy over time, necessitating a “tolerance break” to reset cannabis tolerance.

Cognitive Effects Although small doses can be beneficial, heavy cannabis use (daily or multi-daily use with large dosing) can have diminishing effects on memory, learning and attention.

Health Risks Smoking any substance can be damaging to your lungs, heart, blood vessels and tissues. Pregnant and nursing women should not consume cannabis.

Substance Abuse Cannabis is less addictive than opiods and alcohol. Long-term, chronic use can lead to a cannabis use disorder. Contact your doctor if you struggle to stop consuming cannabis.

Do you use cannabis and/or CBD products to help you sleep? Have they worked? Would you recommend it to a friend? Share your sleep stories with us.

How To Fall Asleep:
Finding The Right Insomnia Treatment

Can’t Sleep? Learn about insomnia solutions to help you fall asleep and stay asleep including sleep aids, OTC supplements, and sleep hygiene practices.

Highlights

An estimated 30% of American adults experience symptoms of insomnia each year.

Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health and safety consequences if left untreated. These include an increased risk of disease, poor mental health, and an increased likelihood of accidents.

If you’re suffering from insomnia, work with an expert to find the right treatment option for you. Remedies for insomnia include prescriptions, supplements, therapies, and more.

For the fourth night in a row, Johannah found herself suddenly awake in the middle of the night.

She was annoyed at how alert her body felt, knowing that when her alarm rang in a few short hours she would feel anything but alert.

Over the past few weeks, Johannah had been experiencing increasingly bad sleep but didn’t understand why. She was so tired during the day. She felt slow at work and could barely keep her eyes open, despite drinking enough coffee to wake up a rhinoceros.

It seemed like she should be able to crash as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Johannah suspected the cause behind her sudden insomnia was stress. Despite a new job that covered most of her expenses, she had a wedding coming up and wasn’t sure how she and her fiance would be able to pay all the vendors. Johannah suspected that solving her money problems would also solve her sleep issues.

But finding a solution to late-night tossing and turning was taking longer than she had expected. She needed some rest, but she didn’t know how to get it.

Sleep is a crucial element to our overall wellbeing and our ability to perform at our best each day.

We all experience particularly stressful periods in our lives when we lose some shuteye due to anxiety. In most cases, such sleep issues are short-lived and resolve themselves. But when it doesn’t, you may need to seek help.

Here, we’ll help you learn more about insomnia. We’ll also clarify the different solutions available to help you get rest when you need it the most.

Introduction

Insomnia Defined

The Mayo Clinic defines insomnia as:

  1. The inability to fall asleep; or
  2. The inability to stay asleep

And it’s one of the most commonly reported sleep disorders. One in seven adults reports experiencing long-term sleep troubles.

Long-term, or chronic insomnia, occurs when a person has trouble sleeping at least three nights a week for a period of at least three months.

But sleep deprivation isn’t always chronic. It can strike for shorter periods of time, what’s known as “acute insomnia.”

Psychiatrist and Sleep Specialist Dr. Alex Dimitriu has helped hundreds of patients overcome their insomnia. According to Dr. Dimitriu:

“Acute causes can certainly be due to sudden life stressors – job change, move, or interpersonal. More chronic cases of insomnia may be psychophysiological – a situation in which the very fear and anxiety of getting good sleep interfere with good sleep”.

Insomnia has serious consequences in our lives. In fact, a lack of rest can:

  • Impair mood
  • Increase anxiety and impulsivity
  • Hurt learning and memory
  • Reduce creativity
  • Weaken the immune system
  • Cause weight gain
  • Reduce sex drive

Sleep deprivation can also shift us towards “survival” mode, an extremely unhealthy state in the long term.

Insomnia Symptoms

Insomnia is disruptive to our lives in many different ways.

Over the next two weeks, keep track of any symptoms you experience. Be sure to make note of how you’re feeling at night as well as during the daytime.

If you suffer from sleep deprivation, you’ll often feel groggy throughout the day. It also commonly impacts your mood.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Waking up throughout the night
  • Feeling tired, even after a night of rest
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Increased mistakes or even accidents
  • Obsession with sleep

Insomnia is often self-perpetuating, obstructing the actions that would help us rest better.

“In some cases, [insomnia] sets up a vicious cycle, of getting stuck in activities at night, sleeping less and poorly, and having diminished impulse control to not do so the following night.”

That tendency for the symptoms to exacerbate the problem is probably the most infuriating aspect of lack of sleep. Once you have it, it feels like you can’t escape.

Insomnia Causes

Most of us will experience insomnia at some point in our lives. The most common type is acute, short-term insomnia lasting from a few days to a few weeks.

Causes can include:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • A significant life change (new child, divorce, new job, etc.)
  • Trauma
  • Travel (jet lag)
  • Change in work shift or schedule
  • Sleep disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or sleep terrors
  • An inappropriate rest schedule (staying up too late or waking up too early)
  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Change in health
  • Pain
  • Bathroom breaks
  • Phone or laptop use

When To Get Help For Insomnia

It’s not unusual to experience a poor night of shuteye every once in a while. But if you notice that your sleep debt is beginning to detract from your life, you may want to see a specialist.

Need help finding the right sleep solution for you? Start a consult with a board-certified doctor today.

According to Dr. Dimitriu, you should speak with your doctor, and maybe an expert if you notice certain symptoms. They include:

  • Periods of loud snoring, gasping for air, or sleep apnea
  • Waking up numerous times per night
  • Sleep disorders
  • No benefit from non-medical treatments
  • You regularly have trouble sleeping (more than a week or so)
  • Serious daytime grogginess (not just fatigue), particularly while driving
  • A significant change in daytime symptoms like increased agitation, anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, if you find that you have nasal congestion when lying down or find that you tend to breathe through your mouth at night, be sure to see an allergist or ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) doctor.

Clear nasal breathing and airflow are important to getting rest.

More Than Tired has a search tool that can help you find a specialist in your local area.

Although insomnia feels invincible, you have several options at your disposal. Solutions range from lifestyle treatments to prescription medications. The right solution for you will depend on the type of insomnia you’re experiencing, its cause, and your medical history. For most patients, applying several different treatments is the most effective.

Prescription sleep medication may be helpful when stress is keeping you up at night. But not all Z drugs are created equal.

It’s important to work with your doctor to find the correct medication and dosage level for you.

Here we’ll walk through some common prescriptions used to help alleviate insomnia.

Sleep Prescriptions

Prescription sleep medication may be helpful when stress is keeping you up at night. But not all Z drugs (sleeping pills) are created equal.

It’s important to work with your doctor to find the correct medication and dosage level for you.

Here we’ll walk through some common prescriptions used to help alleviate insomnia.

Doxepin

Doxepin is in a class of medications known as tricyclic antidepressants and is commonly used to treat insomnia, especially for patients who can’t stay asleep. It’s a non-controlled substance and does not carry a risk of addiction or dependence.

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Rather than acting as a sedative, Doxepin has been shown to help control your circadian cycle. Studies have also shown that Doxepin can:

Help you fall asleep more quickly

  • Increase your sleep quality, and
  • Help you stay asleep longer

There is ongoing research to determine exactly how Doxepin influences rest, but experts believe that it may slow activity in the brain, helping you fall asleep.

Most people, having taken the right dose, wake up after a full night’s rest, feeling refreshed and without drowsiness.

The recommended dosage for Doxepin for insomnia depends on the individual. You should discuss this with your doctor to make sure you’re taking the right dosage for your needs.

Low-dose Doxepin does carry some side effects including nausea and dizziness. Reach out to your doctor if you experience these or any other unusual side effects after taking Doxepin.

Doxepin may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Always be careful about driving when taking Doxepin.

Trazodone

Trazodone is an antidepressant that doctors often prescribe to treat insomnia. Many doctors also prescribe it to minimize anxiety symptoms, or to treat depression.

Researchers believe that Trazodone helps you sleep by influencing certain neurotransmitters and restoring the balance of serotonin (a natural chemical) in the brain.

Trazodone is considered effective for acute insomnia and can be useful for patients with sleep issues resulting from trauma or negative life experience.

For insomnia, doctors prescribe low doses of Trazodone, usually from 25-50 mg, taken at bedtime. While Trazodone is available in tablets up to 300 mg, a high dose can actually have an adverse effect, keeping you awake rather than helping you get some shuteye.

Again, it’s important to work with your doctor to find a dosage that’s suitable for you.

At low doses, Trazodone causes few side effects. Still, as with any medication, side effects are possible.

Drowsiness is one common side effect of Trazodone, making it an effective sleep aid. And with the correct dosage, drowsiness shouldn’t carry over to the morning.

Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cardiac arrhythmia

In some cases, Trazodone has been shown to cause nasal congestion.

Nasal breathing and airflow are important when it comes to sleep. If you have allergies or nasal congestion when lying down, or if you tend to breathe through your mouth at night, you should be sure to see an allergist or ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) doctor.

Very rarely, Trazodone has been shown to cause priapism for men, which may require an ER visit if it persists for more than four hours.

Trazodone may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Always be careful about driving when taking Trazodone.

Hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that primarily treats itching caused by allergies. Because of its sedative properties, it’s also considered an effective treatment for insomnia.

Like other antihistamines including Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Claritin, Hydroxyzine works by blocking your body’s production of histamine. Histamine is a chemical that your body produces in response to an allergen.

At a low dose commonly used for insomnia, most side effects are rare and certain side effects (like drowsiness) make it helpful.

Though it’s considered a mostly safe medication, Hydroxyzine does carry some side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision

As with any medication, tell your doctor if you experience these or any other side effects after taking medication.

Hydroxyzine may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Always be careful about driving when taking Hydroxyzine.

Gabapentin

The FDA has approved Gabapentin to treat seizures and nerve pain. However, studies have shown that Gabapentin is also an effective treatment for insomnia and can even enhance deep sleep.

That makes it particularly helpful for patients who frequently wake up in the middle of the night.

Doctors, therefore, commonly prescribe Gabapentin off-label for restless leg syndrome and insomnia.

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug, meaning it affects nerves in the body that can cause seizures and pain. Some research indicates that Gabapentin improves sleep by reducing agitation and stress before bed, helping you fall asleep faster.

The average Gabapentin dose for insomnia falls between 300-600 mg per day, taken one hour before bed. Your doctor can help you determine a safe and effective dosage.

Gabapentin is generally safe, but like most prescription medications, it carries some risk of side effects. Some of the most common include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Trembling

Tell your doctor if you experience these or any other side effects.

Gabapentin may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Always be careful about driving when taking Gabapentin.

Ambien

Unlike the medications listed above, Ambien (or Zolpidem in generic form) was developed specifically to treat insomnia. It belongs to a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics.

It works by increasing the effects of GABA in the brain, creating a calming effect.

There are two types of Ambien: immediate-release and extended-release. Immediate-release Ambien, as its name suggests, releases quickly in your system to help you fall asleep quickly. Extended-release Ambien helps you fall asleep quickly and has a slower releasing part that helps you stay asleep throughout the night.

Finding out which type of Ambien is right for you requires speaking with your doctor.

Ambien has been shown to have some side effects. Some of the most common include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling tired
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dry mouth
  • Throat irritation
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

Other side effects such as depression, anxiety, aggression, confusion, memory problems, hallucinations, changes in behavior, and thoughts of suicide are rare but have been reported.

Also, beware that people taking Ambien have reported sleepwalking or doing unusual activities in their sleep.

Tell your doctor if you experience these or any other side effects.

Ambien can be habit-forming, so it must be taken under the close supervision of a doctor. It’s intended only for short-term use and should never be used as a long-term option.

The FDA has issued safety warnings about Ambien and its use.

Ambien is not intended for anyone under the age of 18. It should only be taken if you’re intending to stay asleep in your bed for a full night (7-8 hours), and should never be taken with alcohol.

Ambien may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Never drive after taking Ambien.

Lunesta

Lunesta, similar to Ambien, belongs in the sedative-hypnotics drug class. It also works by creating a calming effect on the brain.

Lunesta is intended for short-term use and should only be taken under the close supervision of a doctor.

You should only take Lunesta if you’re planning on resting in your bed for a full night of rest (7-8 hours).

Lunesta has been shown to be habit-forming. The risk of addiction may be higher if you have a history of substance abuse. Taking this medication exactly as your doctor has prescribed can help lower the chances of dependence.

Though not an exhaustive list, some of the most common side effects of Lunesta include:

  • Dizziness
  • Grogginess
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of coordination

Though rarer, other reported side effects include memory loss, changes in behavior, depression, confusion, hallucinations, and thoughts of suicide.

Also, beware that people taking Lunesta have reported sleepwalking or doing unusual activities in their sleep.

Reach out to your doctor if you’ve experienced these or any other side effects.

Lunesta may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Never drive after taking Lunesta.

Sonata

Sonata is a medication used to treat insomnia and is known as a hypnotic. Like Ambien and Lunesta, Sonata works to create a calming effect and help you fall asleep.

Sonata has been shown to be habit-forming. The risk of addiction may be higher if you have a history of substance abuse. Taking this medication exactly as your doctor has prescribed can help lower the chances of dependence.

You should only take Sonata if you’re planning on going to sleep in your bed for a full night of rest (7-8 hours).

Sonata is intended as a short-term solution and should only be taken under the close supervision of a doctor.

Some of the most common side effects of Sonata include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Memory loss (generally short-term)
  • Loss of coordination

Other reported side effects include anxiety, depression, aggression, memory loss, unusual behavior, confusion, hallucinations, and thoughts of suicide.

Also, beware that people taking Sonata have reported sleepwalking or doing unusual activities in their sleep.

Reach out to your doctor if you’ve experienced these or any other side effects.

Sonata may lead to morning sedation. It’s recommended that you test this medication out during the weekends so you can gauge your response to it. Never drive after taking Sonata.

Sleep Supplements

If prescriptions aren’t the right fit for you, there are quite a few over-the-counter sleep aids available. Below, we overview some of the most common supplements to help promote better sleep.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in cannabis. It’s non-psychoactive, meaning that it won’t get you high, and studies have shown it helpful in treating conditions from inflammation to anxiety and insomnia.

CBD isn’t technically a supplement, but you can buy CBD products in many forms without a prescription. Although most patients take it as an oil, one hour before sleep, CBD also comes in capsules, chocolate, gummies, and sprays.

Researchers are currently trying to determine how CBD influences rest (and its effectiveness). Still, there is evidence that it calms the central nervous system, helping you relax and fall asleep.

Though it isn’t a prescription, it’s wise to talk with your doctor about CBD before giving it a try.

Not everyone reacts to CBD identically. Some patients feel energized and alert, rather than calm and relaxed. Additionally, the potency of each CBD product may vary, so check the label to confirm your dose.

CBD has no universal dose; each person is different. The dosage you need depends on your personal tolerance to CBD and the product’s CBD concentration. Most people will need to start with a smaller dose (11mg is considered low) and experiment to find the right level for them.

CBD’s side effects aren’t particularly common or serious, but some people do experience nausea, vomiting, and even mood swings or irritability. If you experience any negative effects after using CBD, you should consult with a doctor.

Melatonin

Melatonin is one of the most well-known supplements.

Most people aren’t aware, however, that melatonin is actually a hormone that your body naturally releases. The pineal gland in the brain produces melatonin and releases it at varying levels throughout the day to sync with your circadian rhythm. At night, your body naturally produces more melatonin to tell your whole system that it’s bedtime.

Dark rooms can signal that your body should produce more melatonin, while light rooms can stop the release. That’s why blue light has such a bad reputation among scientists. Backlit screens can tell your brain to stop producing melatonin and to wake up instead.

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For people with naturally low levels of melatonin, a melatonin supplement might be helpful. In some studies, taking melatonin an hour before bed helped people fall asleep faster.

While generally considered safe, melatonin should be a short-term solution. Taking melatonin for more than two years has been associated with side effects like:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Cramps
  • Depression

It’s always smart to speak to your doctor before taking any supplement. They can advise you on its effects and help you find the right dosage.

If you’ve never taken melatonin before, start with the lowest dose available and adjust as needed. Too large a dose can increase the risk of side effects.

Magnesium

Magnesium is another supplement that’s gained a reputation for helping people sleep. While supplementation is possible, you get most of your magnesium through the foods you eat. Magnesium is one of the most common natural minerals on Earth.

Low magnesium levels have been associated with sleep trouble.

Studies have found that magnesium improves rest in three ways:

  1. Help activate your parasympathetic system, making you feel more calm and relaxed.
  2. Help regulate the natural melatonin levels in your body, so your system knows when it’s time to sleep.
  3. Attaches to your gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, helping quiet your nervous system.

You can have too much of a good thing. Too much magnesium can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Your first step should be to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium through your diet.

Magnesium-rich foods include:

  • Avocados
  • Spinach and leafy greens
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel
  • Bananas

If you’re still not getting enough magnesium, talk to your doctor to find out if a supplement is right for you. They can also help you determine the right dosage. Contact your doctor if you experience any negative side effects after trying magnesium.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a supplement that comes from a small plant prevalent in India and North Africa.

Like CBD, studies have found it effective to help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. More research is ongoing to determine its effectiveness.

While the medical community considers it mostly safe, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with some autoimmune diseases shouldn’t take ashwagandha. It also interacts with some blood pressure and thyroid medications.

To be safe, speak with your doctor before adding ashwagandha to your daily regimen.

Other popular supplements used for shuteye include GABA, Valerian Root, and L-theanine.

Warnings for these are much the same as for ashwagandha.

  1. Ask a doctor
  2. Be careful with your doses
  3. Don’t take it for too long

Building up a dependency on any sleep aid, no matter how natural, is unhealthy. Consult with your doctor on the best way to reduce your intake when your rest has returned to normal.

Whether you and your doctor decide that a prescription or supplement is the right choice or not, you can begin certain practices tonight that will improve your sleep in the long run.

Non-Medication Solutions

Whether you and your doctor decide that a prescription or supplement is the right choice or not, you can begin certain practices tonight that will improve your sleep in the long run.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is useful for everyone, insomniac or not. Think of it as building better habits. Sleep hygiene is just a series of actions, personalized to your specific needs to achieve better sleep.

According to Dr. Dimitriu, poor sleep hygiene is one of the most common reasons people can’t sleep:

“People just need time to unwind after a very busy day, and unfortunately, it’s easy to stay up late to get that much needed alone time…This is exactly the reason so many of us have insomnia – there is no time, or desire, to just leave the mind alone – to do its thing.”

The good news is that you don’t need to follow a specific set of rules. Sleep hygiene is about creating nighttime and morning routines that you tailor precisely to your needs.

Some of the most effective practices include:

  • Practice consistency. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even weekends!
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption, especially later in the day. Some people use alcohol to fall asleep, but it lowers sleep quality and makes your shuteye less restful.
  • Expose yourself to the appropriate light at the right times of the day. Sunlight during the day and darkness at night will help your body maintain a natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Limit blue light at night (you probably already know you should be avoiding screens 30 minutes before bed. Actually do it!)
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit naps to no more than 30 minutes each day.

“I advise people to focus on wake as much as sleep…I tell patients to think one day at a time, and not to problem-solve for the future, or question the past…Using relaxing activities to help facilitate sleep at night – reading, audiobooks, or music, can always be helpful.”

Before bed, you might consider:

  • Reading a book
  • Taking a bath or hot shower
  • Lighting a candle
  • Practicing relaxation exercises like meditation or breathing exercises
  • Gentle foam rolling
  • Making a to-do list for the next day
  • Writing in a journal
  • Spending time with your loved ones

The length of your routine depends on your needs. It can be 15 minutes or an hour. Once you’ve determined what works best for you and your schedule, stick to it.

So, what if you find yourself lying awake even after you’ve followed your routine?

Resist the urge to turn on the TV or start scrolling through your phone. That won’t help you sleep, but it will help you lie there awake for the next few hours.

Instead, get up and try opening a book, journaling, or just sitting beside your bed until you start to feel tired. Only return to your bed when you actually feel tired again.

Dr. Dimitriu also strongly recommends making your bedroom a space that’s specifically designed for sleep. The ideal space is a cool, dark room with a comfortable bed. He also advises keeping “daytime” activities (like eating and working) out of the room.

Your local home goods store can help you create that space with things like:

  • Weighted blankets
  • Blackout curtains
  • Eye masks
  • Cooling pillows
  • Earplugs

Meditation

Mindfulness practices like meditation can help fight off insomnia, particularly during times of high stress when your agitated mind won’t let you rest.

Meditation is an ancient practice that has recently gained wide popularity through apps like Calm and Headspace.

The idea is to quiet the mind by bringing your focus to the current moment and your breath.

Meditation can activate your body’s relaxation response, which counteracts your body’s stress response. Practicing meditation regularly – 20 minutes daily or so – teaches your body to activate its relaxation response more quickly.

The relaxation response causes the same physiological reaction your body should experience before sleep: the calming of your muscles, your heart rate slowing, and your stress levels dropping.

If regular, breath-focused meditation isn’t for you, you can experiment with other styles. Most meditation apps include things like body scans, visualization, and effortless presence. These can feel less daunting than using only your breath to silence your racing mind.

A short, gentle yoga session can accompany your meditation if it helps you relax.

Sleep Sounds

Though your room should be quiet when it’s time to sleep, that doesn’t necessarily mean complete silence. In fact, a little noise can actually help you fall asleep.

The trick lies in finding the right noise.

Try creating a playlist of soothing music. Natural sounds like crickets, rustling trees, or forest animals are also popular.

If all else fails, there’s always white noise.

White noise machines have been around for decades and produce noise at multiple frequencies to block out background sounds. Certain apps will also play white noise.

Alternatively, you can try pink noise. It’s like white noise but derived from natural ingredients. The sounds of water, like pouring rain or a rushing river, tend to produce similar effects to white noise, obscuring background sounds that can ruin your rest.

A newer trend is ASMR, autonomous sensory meridian response. The theory is to create a calming relaxation response via pleasant sounds or sights. ASMR videos often include people talking in a soothing voice, whispers, rain, tapping noise, and more.

ASMR is somewhat polarizing. People either love it or hate it. But technology has created so many options for sleepers in the last few years, it’s worth trying these non-medical treatments if you struggle with insomnia. You may find something that makes sleeping feel as easy as falling off a log.

Sleep Tracking

Another tech-age treatment for insomnia is sleep tracking.

Create a journal for yourself to track your sleeping patterns. After a couple of weeks, share your journal with your doctor and see if you can identify any patterns in your sleep habits.

Sleep tracking is intended to capture a clearer picture of your current habits and to better understand the tactics that help you sleep.

Oura Ring is one of the most popular sleep trackers available. It tracks how long you took to fall asleep, your sleep duration, sleep cycles, heart rate, body temperature, and more.

Several fitness trackers like the Apple Watch and Fitbit can also track your patterns.

While these devices can be useful, you don’t necessarily need a device to track your sleep. Analog sleep journals are still a perfectly valid way to record your habits. Over time, they can provide insight into your personal habits and progress.

Things to incorporate into a journal include:

  • The time you went to bed
  • The time you woke up
  • Number of times you woke up in the middle of the night
  • How you felt when you went to started to drift off (stressed, worried, calm, tired)
  • How you felt in the morning (rested, alert, groggy)

If you’re experimenting with different supplements or nighttime routines, include those too so you learn which ones are most helpful over time. Also, include any prescriptions from your doctor.

Additionally, consider sharing your journal with your doctor so they can help you fine-tune your treatment plan.

Other relevant items to consider tracking include:

  • Amount of time exercised
  • Time of last caffeinated drink
  • Time of last alcoholic drink
  • Time of last major meal

“Tracking sleep quality is complicated. Some people are just not morning types, and will never wake to feel completely refreshed…More important, is how you feel during the day, and specifically in the afternoon. While everyone gets tired in the afternoons, feeling irresistibly sleepy, is not a good sign…I encourage tracking energy later in the day, not just mornings, as a true marker of sleep quality.”

Conclusion

Sleep is a critical piece to your overall well-being, and there’s nothing odd about experiencing occasional difficulty.

But when insomnia starts bleeding into your life, affecting your performance or safety, it’s imperative that you seek help.

Talking with a doctor can help you find the right solution for you.

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