Ambien: How can I sleep without it?

Posted by rachel123 @rachel123, Sun, Jan 20 5:06pm

I have been taking ambien for over 10 years, and daily for the past year. Unfortunately, I now cannot go to sleep without it. Have gone to counselor for sleep therapy and now filling out a form about my sleep. What time do I go to sleep, how many times do I wake up, how long am I awake? I can’t even remember because I can’t sleep without it. Any comments, I am very challenged by the situation I have gotten myself in, and have anxiety because I cannot remember things.

Hi @rachel123,
There are several members who have used zolpidem (Ambien). Here are a couple of other discussions that may interest you:
> Sleep Health > Wean off Ambien with melatonin https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/weenoff-ambian-with-melatonin/
> Depression/anxiety https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/depressionanxiety/

I'm tagging a few members to see if they may have some ideas for you: @michelle_m @windwalker @happythinkingma @jmalibu @sndishpr.

Rachel, have you told the sleep therapist about how you're feeling? Remember forms are just forms and not everyone fits into the categories of a form. They are conversation starters, giving the therapist a baseline. Tell him/her that you sleep so solidly with Ambien that you can't track your sleep patterns and that not remembering and not being able to take Ambien makes you very anxious. That's a great place to start to get the help that's right for you.

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@rachel123 Great thoughts from Colleen. Do you think, working with your doctor, that you could start by reducing the dosage of Ambien that you take? That would probably be a good first step, I would think, but I have never really used prescription sleep medications really so I am not familiar. I did try something one time a long time ago but I didn’t like how I felt in the morning so I did not take it for long.
JK

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Hi @rachel123! Your post could have been my post last September. Please read my journey. I think it’s at “wean off Ambien with melatonin “. I not only took Ambien, but took Xanax, Benadryl, and melatonin. I began by substituting Ambien with Trazadone. I started seeing a sleep therapist in November and am still in therapy. I am now done to 12.5 mg of Trazodone and take no other drugs, Take it slow. It is possible. My PCP is amazed at my progress. I am still waking up at night. Fill out the forms to the best of your ability. You’re not getting graded,Lol. I have been keeping a sleep log since November. It helps to have a pad by your night table to record times. Feel free to ask me any questions. Good luck.

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Thank you so much for the encouragement and hope. I have started on the forms, even tho since I am still taking the ambien, I really don't know when I go to sleep but with Ambien most of the time it isn't very long. Unfortunately when I wake up I just take more because I need my sleep, as we all do. I have tried to cut back on it and sometimes it works and then I end up taking it in the middle of the night. If it were not for problems with my memory I would not be concerned with the ambien because it has worked well for me for years. I have no idea if it is the ambien or something else that is "challenging" my memory. Keeping the log is also helping me to know and be more aware….some of the log of course is a guess. I have tried melatonin & trazodone and it did not work at all for me…..but that has been a couple of years . The most recent drug that I tried was sonata —and it did not work either.

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@colleenyoung

Hi @rachel123,
There are several members who have used zolpidem (Ambien). Here are a couple of other discussions that may interest you:
> Sleep Health > Wean off Ambien with melatonin https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/weenoff-ambian-with-melatonin/
> Depression/anxiety https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/depressionanxiety/

I'm tagging a few members to see if they may have some ideas for you: @michelle_m @windwalker @happythinkingma @jmalibu @sndishpr.

Rachel, have you told the sleep therapist about how you're feeling? Remember forms are just forms and not everyone fits into the categories of a form. They are conversation starters, giving the therapist a baseline. Tell him/her that you sleep so solidly with Ambien that you can't track your sleep patterns and that not remembering and not being able to take Ambien makes you very anxious. That's a great place to start to get the help that's right for you.

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Thank you. Yes I have shared that I have some challenges with anxiety. I am not anxious about not having ambien because I still have it…. I tried the lst night not to take the ambien and it was awful…tried to stay up as long as I could, then I gave up & took it. Got up with a sore throat, felt awful, now have a cold, however, I have gotten up at the same time for 4 days……yea! a start.

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I too have been on Ambien for 10 yrs. ist 10 mg and then 5mg for the last few years. Since I recently retired I am not that physically tired as much as I was when home from a stressful job. Some nights 5 mg does not do the trick and I go to the kitchen and get some sleepy time tea. this helps most of the time. I have to wean off somehow kenny52

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@kenny52

I too have been on Ambien for 10 yrs. ist 10 mg and then 5mg for the last few years. Since I recently retired I am not that physically tired as much as I was when home from a stressful job. Some nights 5 mg does not do the trick and I go to the kitchen and get some sleepy time tea. this helps most of the time. I have to wean off somehow kenny52

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Hi, @kenny52. Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thanks for the suggestion of the tea for helping get to sleep.

Is your doctor recommending you taper off the zolpidem (Ambien)? Or are you feeling that tapering would be the best for you right now?

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@lisalucier

Hi, @kenny52. Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thanks for the suggestion of the tea for helping get to sleep.

Is your doctor recommending you taper off the zolpidem (Ambien)? Or are you feeling that tapering would be the best for you right now?

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Lisa – Do you think Ambien is safe if taken every night in about 5mg…..i.e. the only reason I want off of it is because I have had memory issues-especially short term attention-and even no memory of some things from my past. This has progressively gotten worse in the past couple of years and even moreso within past 9 months Perhaps the ambien is not my problem because it has worked very well for me. I sleep much better when I take it.

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@rachel123

Lisa – Do you think Ambien is safe if taken every night in about 5mg…..i.e. the only reason I want off of it is because I have had memory issues-especially short term attention-and even no memory of some things from my past. This has progressively gotten worse in the past couple of years and even moreso within past 9 months Perhaps the ambien is not my problem because it has worked very well for me. I sleep much better when I take it.

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Hi, @rachel123 – I'm not qualified to speak to safety of medications, as I'm not a physician or pharmacist. However, here is some Mayo Clinic information on zolpidem (Ambien):

– On zolpidem (Ambien): https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/zolpidem-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20061195?p=1 (Note here that a statement in the first paragraph says," In most cases, sleep medicines should only be used for short periods of time, such as 1 or 2 days, and for no longer than 1 or 2 weeks.")

– On Ambien and dependence: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/ambien/faq-20058103

Has your prescribing doctor expressed concerns about zolpidem (Ambien) and your memory?

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@rachel123 Here’s an update. Since seeing a sleep therapist, I no longer take Ambien, Xanax,Benadryl, or melatonin. I substituted 50 mg Trazodone. I was weaning offthe Trazodone and down to only 12.5 mg . My sleep deteriorated. Couldn’t fall asleep, and then woke up for hours at a time, Finally my sleep therapist (and PCP), suggested I return to 25 mg Trazodone. It’s been almost a week now and I’m sleeping well! I feel like I have my life back. I am thrilled to be off Ambien, and don’t think I’ll ever go back. Good luck.

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I have now been off from Ambien for about 2 weeks now. I usually sleep 6.5 hours but still feel like I need more sleep, and I give up and get up for the day, but at least I am getting sleep.

But what now, on those occasional nights when I cannot sleep for whatever reason? What can I take for a night or two where I would not get addicted? Zquil?

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@bruce0712

I have now been off from Ambien for about 2 weeks now. I usually sleep 6.5 hours but still feel like I need more sleep, and I give up and get up for the day, but at least I am getting sleep.

But what now, on those occasional nights when I cannot sleep for whatever reason? What can I take for a night or two where I would not get addicted? Zquil?

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Hi, @bruce0712 – Since you've now stopped taking zolpidem (Ambien), I'd like to request @sndishpr @contentandwell @kenny52 @rachel123 return to this discussion to offer any tips they may have on getting to sleep on occasional nights when you cannot sleep for whatever reason.

Liked by bruce0712

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@lisalucier

Hi, @bruce0712 – Since you've now stopped taking zolpidem (Ambien), I'd like to request @sndishpr @contentandwell @kenny52 @rachel123 return to this discussion to offer any tips they may have on getting to sleep on occasional nights when you cannot sleep for whatever reason.

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@bruce0712 @lisalucier I wish I could suggest some magic panacea but I have not found any really effective measures. I have taken melatonin, max 3 mg, and that helps a bit I think. I have also used Benadryl, a half of one tablet, and that definitely helps but I wake up with a headache when I use it, plus it does not give the same quality of sleep so it is not something you should use regularly. The best thing that I have found is lorazepam. My doctor gives me a prescription for 10 low dose pills, about once a year, so it is not something I use frequently, but when I am desperate it does help. I have also heard that meditation helps, but I have not tried that.

My sleep problems are related to having anxiety about something, like going away on vacation even. Recently there is nothing anxiety producing happening to me so I have been sleeping very well.

Does Zquil have the same ingredient as Benedryl? It might help, but again, I would only use it occasionally.
JK

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@bruce0712

I have now been off from Ambien for about 2 weeks now. I usually sleep 6.5 hours but still feel like I need more sleep, and I give up and get up for the day, but at least I am getting sleep.

But what now, on those occasional nights when I cannot sleep for whatever reason? What can I take for a night or two where I would not get addicted? Zquil?

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Hi @bruce0712 – Usually I can fall asleep after taking the 25 mg Trazodone. I am presently having some medical concerns that is interfering with my sleep. On the occasional nights that I can’t fall asleep I take .25 Xanax. I definitely do not want to return to using it nightly, so I use it only when I’m desperate. Good luck. I’m thrilled to be off Ambien as I’m sure you are!

Liked by bruce0712, tolepma

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Just now found this section. My wife has been to three sleep MD's… no help. She takes Ambien on nights she really needs to sleep but lately has been taking CBD oil, max dose, to try to help go to sleep but usually winds up taking Remeron (mirtazapine) which is an anti-depressant but has worked for her for years… unless she takes it too frequently. If she wakes up during the night, she takes Sonata to get back to sleep quickly. She hates meds but see no other way out!

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