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I finally quit Ambien... and am now sleeping better

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by Rich D, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Rich D

    Rich D

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    After being on Ambien 12.5 mg for just over 2 years, I am finally off it. Looking back to when I started it, my doctor who is a partial CFS specialist had me convinced that sleep was a problem. I think I was extra stressed at the time, and added onto that, the talk of how sleep was so important and how it needed to be treated added to that stress and made my sleep even worse. I know this message isn't for everyone, but I had to ask myself was my lack of sleep really a problem? I kind of thought no at the time, but my doctor said yes, so I went on Ambien.

    It is a powerful drug. There were times when I had trouble sleeping despite the Ambien, and I would be awake, with double vision, feeling drugged, and often doing strange things that I didn't remember (my wife would tell me later, or in one case, video'd me!). After going through a period of a couple of weeks where I was feeling charged full of energy at night, wide awake and drugged on Ambien, I decided to quit.

    I took two weeks and was able to work from home for that time (I know, not everyone can do this) and I decided that I would not get bent out of shape no matter what my sleep pattern was like. I spent the first two weeks sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night, but it was not much of a problem, in large part because I did not make it into a problem. I just stayed up, watched TV, ate snacks, etc. Being at home helped a lot because I wasn't stressed about getting up to go to work the next morning. The hardest part was dealing with the mental aspect, thinking I was not going to sleep because I was not taking the drug. That self-talk made falling asleep more difficult, and it took some time and patience to allow for that thought pattern to dissipate.

    By the third week, I was beginning to fall asleep at a more normal time. I took 5 mg melatonin and 100 mg 5-HTP each night, which helped. I am now back to a more normal sleep pattern after 4 weeks of being Ambien free. I am sleeping even better than when I was on Ambien, about 5 hours uninterrupted sleep, followed by 3-4 hours of very interrupted sleep. But it works, I feel much better in the morning, though still usually somewhat tired. But not nearly as tired as I was in the mornings after taking Ambien.

    I just wanted to share my experience in case it is helpful to others. I know Ambien can be a godsend, and I am not suggesting any course of action for people, just wanted to share and discuss if anyone is interested.

    Rich D
    redrachel76, August59, maryb and 3 others like this.
  2. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

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    I hated Ambien as well. I got sleep paralysis from it which was terrifying. It took me forever to figure out that it was the Ambien causing it as well. I'll never touch the stuff again.

    I hate it when it is used so casually for flying etc. It's a serious med with serious side effects for some!

    Ema
  3. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I tried Ambien last year - whatever the lowest dose is - and it kept me up literally all night.
  4. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    Rich D

    I stopped ambien about 6 weeks ago after taking it for many years. I didn't have noticeable side effects (that I knew about!) but since stopping, I find I need about 2 hours less sleep.

    The problem I haven't solved yet is how to get to sleep! It usually takes several hours even with a full complement of non-Rx sleep remedies. That was why I started ambien in the first place!

    So, I am ambien-free, but now an insomniac.

    Sushi
    maryb likes this.
  5. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I have not taken Ambien. But I have taken Lorazapam, which makes me really irritated and nauseas all day the next day.:p:p I have come up with a multi-natural remedy formula that works at least some of the time:

    tryptophan 1500 mg
    magnesium citrate 600 mg
    theanine 400 mg
    progesterone 100 mg
    N-A-C 1200 mg
    Calm zzzz (made by Evergreen herbs) 4-6 capsules
    and a triple tea bag 1/2 cup of tulsi tea.

    I am getting really good at swallowing pills with a minimum of water.

    Also, I have a brain wave tape made by Mitchell Gaynor, that I listen to before bed.

    This gets me to sleep in about half an hour. The problem is that I often wake up at 4-5 am and sometimes I can't get back to sleep after that. However, I find that if I stay in the same position that I was in when I woke up, and go back into focusing on my last dream, the chances are more likely that I will get back to sleep. Getting up to pee is therefore not allowed. And either is thinking about what time it is.
    maryb likes this.
  6. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    I use stilnox/ambien a coupl;e of times a week in my rotation of sleep meds. On its own i find it helps me get to sleep and will stay asleep for about 2 hours, so i only use it for initiating sleep and take it with an antihistamine which helps me sleep longer.

    I have stopped a couple of times off sleep meds and use natural stuff but i just never sleep well without meds. I didnt get any withdrawal type reaction like the shakes or cravings for it etc. Possibly rebound insomnia. I could probably manage it if i could sleep when ever i wanted and wake etc but it wouldnt fit in with my work schedule etc

    I dont know what the answer is? although i am sleeping better(although medicated) then i have in awhile.
    maryb likes this.
  7. soxfan

    soxfan Senior Member

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    I did the same with Lunesta after being on it for 6 years. I was told the exact same thing about sleep being a problem. To be honest I think I would have slept okay without even starting it.
    I would sleep fairly well on but it made my body feel like it was on a timer....take at 9:30 and wake up at 5:30 no matter what. Even if I needed extra sleep there was no way I would sleep any later.

    There were nights where I might get only 4 or 5 hours sleep and when you take a sleeping pill and don't sleep...well that is just the worse especially if you have to work the next day.

    I finally quit last August by taking Kavanace and 1/2 mg Klonopin. I was sleeping better than the previous 6 years. I am now off Kavanace and weaning off Klonopin. I am able to fall asleep no problem and only wake once or twice. My head is much clearer and I am not as groggy...or feel strange in the mornings. I am going to totally be off Klonopin in a month. It will be so nice to find out after all these years if I can sleep using no aid and hopefully mornings will be better.

    So far it is one of the best decisions I have ever made...I had also been on Ambien for 2 years prior to Lunesta. I won't mind if I have to end up using herbal supplements to fall asleep but I can't wait to be off Klonopin.....
    maryb likes this.
  8. Rich D

    Rich D

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    One thing I might suggest - try accepting the fact that you are not going to fall asleep when you want to. Allow yourself to stay up without any judgement about it. If you are awake, then fully let yourself be awake without trying to get to sleep. Do whatever - watch tv, read, have a snack. Don't tell yourself things like I'm going to be tired in the morning, regardless of how tired you may have been in the past. Just let it go and see what happens. Try this for a few weeks. Even if you don't sleep as much as you would like, see if you are less tired.
  9. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    Rich D

    Yes, I do that, but it actually can mean not going to sleep at all the whole night! The physical stress of this is actually dangerous for me, so I will continue to experiment with various combinations of sleep remedies.

    Sushi
    Mij, maryb and heapsreal like this.
  10. soxfan

    soxfan Senior Member

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    The sleep specialist I saw said not to get up if you can't sleep .....because turning on the light causes the melatonin swing in your body. She said not to even turn on the light if I have to use the bathroom. Keep a small nightlight in the bathroom. Also watching tv or using the computer can also cause the mind to become too active again. This is all from what I was told.

    If I can't fall asleep I just lay there even though it is difficult to do. I try to think of fun times..vacations..or listen to my meditation tapes. I never get up...they also said a lot of times we think we are awake all night when actually we are dozing in a light sleep. That is what my sleep study showed...I thought I was awake the entire night but did actually sleep some.

    I will never go back to sleeping pills...looking back now I was feeling horrible in the am and really not getting good sleep. I will also experiment with different non Rx products once I am clean off klonopin...
    maryb likes this.
  11. physicsstudent13

    physicsstudent13 Senior Member

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    I take 0.5-1mg/day. I am on klonopin and it has really helped my sleep apnea, central apnea and seems to consolidate my sleep and normalize oxygen levels, but it didn't cure my brain fog. so are the stories about klonopin fog and memory problems, side effects/withdrawal true?
  12. Nielk

    Nielk

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  13. physicsstudent13

    physicsstudent13 Senior Member

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    I think I might be on klonopin long term because of my mysterious central apnea. maybe the brain fog is a separate issue from low neurotransmitters like acetyl choline or methyl folate? I'm not sure why the brain fog improved after taking NAC and choline except that maybe I was low on neurotransmitters or had a deficiency from diabetes/metformin?
    do you have any insight into sleep apnea? I started taking sam-E too, but may stop the supplements for a while because they were making me feel strange
  14. Nielk

    Nielk

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    How mu h Klonopin are you taking? It can definitely give you brainfog. I never heard that Klonopin helps with sleep Apnea. It does help with sleep in general. Did you try a cpap machine for the apnea?
  15. physicsstudent13

    physicsstudent13 Senior Member

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    yeah I sleep much better on the machine with klonopin, it doesn't give me brain fog, it gives me clarity maybe it says something about the state of my GABA receptor
  16. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

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    Sushi
    just wondered how the withdrawal from zopiclone had gone? I'm thinking of jumping down fast at 1/2 and then cut out totally within a month.
    I have nytol, trytophan, melatonin, and theanine(haven't actually tried that one yet) to replace the zop.
    Can you suggest anything else?
  17. physicsstudent13

    physicsstudent13 Senior Member

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    so klonopin is a strong drug that should be avoided? I have such terrible sleep disorders, it was really strange I don't know if it is related to my NAC deficiency and liver problems. about 90% of people with OSA have NAFLD according to one source
  18. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    I didn't seem to have any noticeable withdrawal from ambien. I went from 10 mg to 0 in about a month--but we are all different.

    The problem was sleeping with out a sleeping pill--which was why I started ambien to begin with. I am using melatonin, theanine, 5 HTP, california poppy and a brain wave CD. I am now getting to sleep more easily. Nytol's effect is from the benadryl in it. I tried benadryl and it left me hung over the next day.

    Best wishes with this,
    Sushi
  19. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    It depends. It seems about 20% have problems "getting off" klonopin--others do fine with it (especially at low doses) and don't have this problem. It has good effects too and many use it during the day to stop things like chest pain. This may work due to klonopin's anti-seizure properties.

    The problem is knowing whether you are one of those who will have problems with it.

    Sushi
  20. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

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    Sushi
    thanks so much for that sushi - a couple more to add to my arsenal:)
    I can only try it - if its too hard I'll have to go back to planning a taper.
    glad your sleep has normalised - bet you feel really good about that.

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