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Benefits and risks of long-term sleep meds

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by darkrobot, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. darkrobot


    After years of insomnia (problems getting to sleep rather than staying asleep), my GP has finally prescribed something which knocks me out and gives me a full refreshing night's sleep (Zopiclone). :D However he has refused to give me more than a month's worth, and now I've run out things are back to normal, i.e. lying awake for hours despite being exhausted. :(

    This seems to make such a big difference to my condition- with a good night's sleep I feel almost normal, without I'm a zombie who can barely function.

    I must point out at this stage that I have tried many other sleep meds and supplements (melatonin, amitriptyline, mirtazipine, trazodone, 5htp, valerian, nytol, etc), plus meditation, hypnosis, sleep hygiene, hot milk, horlicks.... Nothing has helped apart from Zopiclone, but apparently it can be habit-forming and cause rebound insomnia (how would this be worse than what I already have?), so most doctors won't prescribe long-term.

    I would like to know if anyone is on long-term sleep meds, particularly Zopiclone, what the pros and cons are, and whether the benefits outweigh the risks? And also how did you manage to persuade your doctor to prescribe long term?
  2. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

    New England
    Hi darkrobot,

    You might find the following thread helpful, "Experiences With Clonazepam", Dec. 4, 2009, in the General Treatment Section. It is largely about Dr. Paul Cheney's protocol for treating insomnia with Klonopin and Doxepin.
  3. Sallysblooms

    Sallysblooms P.O.T.S. now SO MUCH BETTER!

    Southern USA
    I never take prescriptions for sleep help. I like Meta Rest or Meletonin. TINY amounts. I empty most of the capsule and take it. It is wonderful and not dangerous. I just take it fora couple of nights, then I seem to sleep great for quite a while, then I will do it again.
  4. Lynn

    Lynn Senior Member

    Hi Darkrobot,

    I also have had a difficult time sleeping since becoming ill. I have now been taking Ambien (generic Zolpidem) for twelve years. I totally understand your zombie comment, because I cannot function at all with out some sleep. My Doctor tells me that I am very fortunate because I have been able to get the same benefits for years with the same dose. I guess many people develop a tolerance to it and cannot take it long term.

    I have heard of others with CFS that have the same experience as I have with Ambien long term, so you might ask your Doctor about it.

  5. serenity

    serenity Senior Member

    i'm in the middle of dealing with this now. my docs realize the importance of my sleep. i am on Lunesta, Sonata, Doxepin & Lexapro - & an occasional Xanax. all just to get a good night's sleep - because my sleep totally makes the difference about whether i have a good day the next day or not.
    i think i have to change meds around tho, the Lexapro is causing hair loss & i think the Sonota may be upsetting my stomach. i was unable to tolerate Ambien due to stomach upset.
    my docs seem to understand that the benefits outweigh the risks, tho i admit i am terrified of addiction & hate havin to switch meds around because the withdrawals reak havoc on me.
  6. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

    Hi D/R I began to take Zopiclone last year, took 1/2 of one for over 9months but realised my sleep pattern was becoming disturbed and obviously not working again so stopped taking it, it was about a week before I was able to sleep properly again. I started again a few weeks ago as I was getting a bit desperate for a good nights sleep, but the effects wore off again after 1 week so stopped taking it yet again, it took a week before I could sleep, not good going to try and do without now.
    Just wanted to add that I would always keep some Zopiclone for the times where you are desperate for sleep, definitely worth its weight then, my OH takes one occasionally when he has some heavy sports the following day and I've disturbed his sleep for a few nights, he doesn't have any side effects, sleeps solid and says he feels fine the day after, its different for everyone but I don't get any side effects like headaches etc. Didn't want to put you off the drug totally.
  7. ixchelkali

    ixchelkali Senior Member

    Long Beach, CA
    I was prescribed another one of the Z-drugs, zolpidem (Ambien). It did put me to sleep okay, but it wasn't a refreshing sleep. I haven't had the problems with insomnia that many of you have (knock wood). I do sleep for about 5 or 6 hours a night, but I wake up tired, and the zolpidem didn't help that. If anything, I was groggier in the morning. So when I read about the danger of developing a tolerance or addiction, it didn't seem worth it. I keep it on hand to take on those rare occasions when I do have insomnia.
  8. glenp

    glenp "and this too shall pass"

    Vancouver Canada suburbs
    Quality of Life

    Zopiklone is listed in the drugs in the hummingbird Canadian

    I did'nt ask my doctor for it. He is amazing. I got rid of the first bottle I had. He had to "persuade" me to take it. "What is your quality of life? is what he said. He doesn't like to prescribe these drugs, but what choice does a doctor have?? Think about it At the time I had 2 hours sleep in 4 days

    I have taken it every night for 10 months, sometimes it doesnt work. If I am still awake after 3 hours I get up and take a cessamet or adivan. It does not give me a full nights sleep though--I can now get 4+plus hours

  9. helsbells

    helsbells Senior Member

    Hey dark robot I have taken this on and off for years - the problem with cheneys protocol is that clonazepam isn't primarily for sleep (I take that too) and I find I build up tolerance to that much more quickly than zop. Yes you will get rebound insomnia from it but it dissipates quite quickly whereas the withdrawal from benzos can be much more protracted and less predictable. The main things to watch out from with Zop is mild agitation, I find my concentration is pretty bad anyway and I always get extra antsy about teatime following taking Zop the night before. Also it can make you depressed over time although the astonishing (well to me anyway) irony is that for someone with such severe MCS eg the carbon in my fizzy water is giving me severe headcahes ATM and gets me really down - I tolerate zop reaonably well. I know a lot of people that take this and I am in no way condoning this in anyway but most of them order it off the internet - I have never had any probs getting from my Dr so haven't had to go there. You will build up tolerance over time so I try and take it every other night and I am gaining weight but difficult to say if that is from benzo (slowing metabolism) or zop - increasing appetite or just general illness weirdness. I don't know if Lyrica or pregabalin do anything for sleep as I can't tolerate them but I know a few people on those now?
  10. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

    australia (brisbane)
    I have also taken zopiclone for a few years but not every night, probably 3 nights a week. I use between 1-2 tabs, sometimes i get to the stage where it doesnt work and i just stop using it for awhile and substitute it for valium or mogadon for awhile. If your doc will only give u zopiclone for a month then he doesnt understand cfs very well, in that its a chronic neurological illness as sleep dysfunction as one of its main symptoms. I think docs a worried to prescribe sleep meds for any length of time because of addiction but they are aloud to for chronic medical conditions that cause sleep dysfunction, maybe try to talk to him about what i have just written. I know exactly what you mean by how u feel with no sleep, insomnia is one of my worst cfs symptoms, Im writting this after sleeping from 1230-330am, lol. I didnt take any zopiclone last night, lol.
  11. Galena1


    South West UK
    I've been on a low dose (7mg) of Zopiclone for 18-24 months and have recently cut it back to half a tablet. Not quality sleep, and usually 5 hours, 6 max, but hey, it's sleep sort of! I read somewhere about patient doses of up to 35mg:eek: If you do take half a tablet be sure to get it down ASAP otherwise you will experience a whole new level of foul taste:D
    My GP will only issue 21 pills at a time but getting repeat scripts is not a problem, unless you are paying for them of course.
    Down sides for me?
    Not great quality sleep
    It doesn't always work.
    Foul mouth a lot of the time (yuk!)
    Extreme nightmares when taking 7mg. My belief is that pain and discomfort, that would normally wake me up, manifests itself as nightmares because the Zopiclone just about keeps me 'under'.

  12. darkrobot


    Thanks for all the replies folks, I have decided to continue with Zoplicone long-term. I have found a source other than my GP, the tablets seem legit, (been taking them last few nights, slept well, feel great :D). I definitely feel that the benefits of a deep refreshing sleep, which it does give me, and the subsequent effect on healing and health outweigh any possible dependency problems in the future. I will cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

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