Ambien: How can I sleep without it?

Posted by rachel123 @rachel123, Jan 20, 2019

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.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Sleep Health group.

@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!

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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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My doctor wants to put me on lexapro. I read how one might gain weight and or lose sex drive which is already a problem for me 🙁
And so I almost started to take the med….until I was reading how very difficult it is to eventually get OFF it, I cannot imagine having to take a medication like this the rest of my life! It scares me.
But what i read is that it might help me. I do have these periodic periods of feeling sad for myslef but then I thought about that, most often I am in a pretty decent mood! And I can be happy, especially if I am around people!
A month ago, I started weening myself OFF from the ambien. Low and behold, i no longer take it, it has been about 3 weeks now not taking it. But usually I don't have things bothering me, yet one night recently I has a SIMPLE "got to get up early" to do a blood test evening so I get all wound up and was unable to sleep well that night, anxiety I guess….a one nighter. I got about 2 hours of sleep. That was it. Drove to get the blood draw, went home, and slept about 5 hours. I made it.
So now I am still resisting the lexapro, my doctor thinks I am taking it, I lied to him.

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@bruce0712

My doctor wants to put me on lexapro. I read how one might gain weight and or lose sex drive which is already a problem for me 🙁
And so I almost started to take the med….until I was reading how very difficult it is to eventually get OFF it, I cannot imagine having to take a medication like this the rest of my life! It scares me.
But what i read is that it might help me. I do have these periodic periods of feeling sad for myslef but then I thought about that, most often I am in a pretty decent mood! And I can be happy, especially if I am around people!
A month ago, I started weening myself OFF from the ambien. Low and behold, i no longer take it, it has been about 3 weeks now not taking it. But usually I don't have things bothering me, yet one night recently I has a SIMPLE "got to get up early" to do a blood test evening so I get all wound up and was unable to sleep well that night, anxiety I guess….a one nighter. I got about 2 hours of sleep. That was it. Drove to get the blood draw, went home, and slept about 5 hours. I made it.
So now I am still resisting the lexapro, my doctor thinks I am taking it, I lied to him.

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Hi, @bruce0712 – here is some Mayo Clinic information on Escitalopram (Lexapro) that may be useful https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/escitalopram-oral-route/description/drg-20063707.

Since this medication is used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), if you are looking to get some feedback on it. you might start a new discussion on it in the Connect Depression & Anxiety group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/depression-anxiety/.

So, your sleep is overall pretty good now off of the Ambien, except for certain circumstances, bruce0712?

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@lisalucier

Hi, @bruce0712 – here is some Mayo Clinic information on Escitalopram (Lexapro) that may be useful https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/escitalopram-oral-route/description/drg-20063707.

Since this medication is used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), if you are looking to get some feedback on it. you might start a new discussion on it in the Connect Depression & Anxiety group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/depression-anxiety/.

So, your sleep is overall pretty good now off of the Ambien, except for certain circumstances, bruce0712?

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Thanks. Yes, most nights I sleep about 7 hours, I wake up, and if I am lucky, I can fall back asleep for 30 to 60 more and I don't feel as sleepy as I do with 7.5 hours.

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There ARE helpful psychiatric medications out there. Ambien isn't one of them. I've been taking it for insomnia for several months now, and
I admit I enjoy the "hypnotic feeling" I get as soon as I take it. I get REM sleep, but during the day I'm mentally fuzzy, angry, confused … In a word, stupefied.
It isn't normal. I don't feel myself. Please give me some advice for stopping. And for God's sake, DON'T tell me to change doctors, get
new referals, switch meds, etc. I don't have any money. I can't afford rehab. And I'm not going to a "free one." And my poverty health insurance barely pays my doctor, so he could care less.

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@groovemon

There ARE helpful psychiatric medications out there. Ambien isn't one of them. I've been taking it for insomnia for several months now, and
I admit I enjoy the "hypnotic feeling" I get as soon as I take it. I get REM sleep, but during the day I'm mentally fuzzy, angry, confused … In a word, stupefied.
It isn't normal. I don't feel myself. Please give me some advice for stopping. And for God's sake, DON'T tell me to change doctors, get
new referals, switch meds, etc. I don't have any money. I can't afford rehab. And I'm not going to a "free one." And my poverty health insurance barely pays my doctor, so he could care less.

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Hello @groovemon, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Sorry you are having a hard time getting help. As members we cannot offer medical advice but we can share personal experiences and related information. I'm sure you are not alone in trying to taper off of Ambien. There is another discussion that you may find helpful to learn what others have shared.

– Weaning off zolpidem (Ambien): https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/weenoff-ambian-with-melatonin/

I know you said your doctor could care less, but have you tried asking him how to taper off of Ambien?

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@groovemon

There ARE helpful psychiatric medications out there. Ambien isn't one of them. I've been taking it for insomnia for several months now, and
I admit I enjoy the "hypnotic feeling" I get as soon as I take it. I get REM sleep, but during the day I'm mentally fuzzy, angry, confused … In a word, stupefied.
It isn't normal. I don't feel myself. Please give me some advice for stopping. And for God's sake, DON'T tell me to change doctors, get
new referals, switch meds, etc. I don't have any money. I can't afford rehab. And I'm not going to a "free one." And my poverty health insurance barely pays my doctor, so he could care less.

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@groovemon
You say "There ARE helpful psychiatric medications out there" meaning you somehow already know of one or more that would be better than Ambien. If your doctor could care less (far from an optimum situation but oh well), is it possible he also would not care whether he prescribed you something different than Ambien? Maybe just ask him to get you off Ambien and onto a different med., one that you feel would be better for your situation.
Best, Hank

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@contentandwell

@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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I’ve been using zolpidem for 15 years and have cut it down to a third of a five mg. tab and am sleeping better.

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@dustycat52

I’ve been using zolpidem for 15 years and have cut it down to a third of a five mg. tab and am sleeping better.

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@dustycat52 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect.

It sounds like you have information and support to give.

May I ask, did you come to Connect for any particular reason?

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@erikas

@dustycat52 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect.

It sounds like you have information and support to give.

May I ask, did you come to Connect for any particular reason?

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I connected to this forum because I wanted to know about other people’s experiences with tapering off zolpidem. I find a lot o fire as in support groups.

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