What Can I Take Long-Term For Insomnia Besides Benzos?

When I was a teenager I had insomnia. It sucked. Especially when one’s parents are disgustingly and disturbingly frequently amorous. Ew. I suffered from an ability to go to sleep earlier than midnight, although I need at least 8 and preferably 10 hours of sleep. It was a problem, that now I hear is very common among teens. But then I got older, and I could fall asleep quickly on a regular basis. Not as fast as a lot of guys (not that I’ve slept with a lot of guys- okay, I have)- but some of them can fall asleep before their head hits the pillow, practically! But I would usually drift off after 10 minutes or so. Life was great.

Then I started taking an antidepressant, Effexor, which, to me, is like amphetamines, almost- it gives me a lot of energy. I couldn’t sleep for crap- waking every hour or so, never being able to enter that deep sleep that restores you and keeps you from going nuts and seeing things. So my doctor prescribed Xanax. It’s awesome. I take one, start reading, and in about 30 minutes, I’m drowsy as a mofo, lights out. Also, I take half of one most mornings because some people at my work really bother me otherwise, and my doctor knows about that.

But the rational part of my brain knows that, as good as it feels, one shouldn’t sustain long-term use of benzodiazepines. My doctor doesn’t see any problem with it, but I just feel uncomfortable being on them much longer. I plan on staying on the Effexor until the first part of 2010, and after that won’t need them for insomnia relief, but should take something for generalized anxiety, but preferably not benzos.

I can’t anything like Ambien. I’m the sole adult at home and I would not be comfortable with the more unusual side effects, such as driving around or whatever. I don’t know if Lunesta or the others can do that- but I prefer not to take a rx sleep aid like that without more information.

Any ideas?

Here is an aticle published just yesterday in the Washington Post: Critics Cite Serious Side Effects of Benzodiazepines

I was especially interested since I was just prescribed lorazepam (Ativan), which is a benzo, for anxiety.

I also suffer from depression and insomnia, and have been taking Ambien, which I really love, but I know that I should not get “hooked” on it, and would like to eventually taper off of it to avoid dependence. I have never had any negative side effects on Ambien such as sleep eating or driving, although I have experienced a little but of amnesia - like, I will be reading my book while waiting for it to kick in, and the next day I will have to re-read the last few pages because I don’t really remember reading them.

Also, maybe change your antidepressant so that it doesn’t cause sleeplessness? I was on Zoloft for a long time, and now Prozac, and neither of them gave me problems with too much energy.

Lorazepam- I went to the doctor last week and he wrote me a new Rx for alprazolam (Xanax) except he wrote lorazepam by mistake. I went to the pharmacy and discovered the error, but thought, maybe he wants me to change to this. But then I researched them, and they’re quite different although in the same class, you’re not supposed to abruptly stop taking alprazolam, and I came to the conclusion that the doctor actually made a mistake in the writing of it and it was supposed to be alprazolam. I can’t get the regular pills until tomorrow, so I’ve been taking the lorazepam, and I don’t like it. It’s not the same. I can’t sleep- I’m back to the waking every hour or so. It’s nice for calming during the day, but I need my Xanax and sleep back.

As for changing the antidepressant, the reasons I’m taking Effexor is because it has a lower incidence of side effects than other things for me. Prozac=severe, intractable insomnia, Paxil=mania, Lexapro=vomiting, etc., etc. I don’t get along well with medications so for me it’s always a choice between bad or worse.

Diphenhydramine and doxylamine succinate are OC and work fine. They make it hard for me to wake up in the morning but YMMV. There isn’t the danger of (physical) dependence here.

When I had stress-related insomnia some time ago, a doctor in the Philippines (where I was at the time) prescribed Xanor. One pill was good for 3 hours and another could be taken after the first 3 hours for a total of 6 hours of sleep. I detected no side effects.

I went to graduate school in psychopharmacology and I have had some of the same problems. This doesn’t happen to everyone but Effexor almost destroyed my life and the lives of many others. I turned out to be bipolar and I absolutely should not have been prescribed it in the first place so be very careful. Those drugs can be very powerful and no one understands how they work exactly plus there are a lot of crackpot doctors out there. You may want to get a second opinion.

There are at least two non-addictive medicines that you can ask about. One is trazodone which most doctors will give you. The other is Dramamine which you can buy over the counter at any drug store. As always, ask you doctor about these but benzodiazepine addiction can be serious. My grandfather died at the age of 55 from long term benzodiazepine addiction and then, withdrawal. That is rare but, if you ever got truly hooked, the detox can be painful.

I don’t like to take otc things like diphenhydramine because of that groggy morning effect. I always feel somewhat hungover the next day. My CNS is very sensitive to meds so it’s always like “if you take this, then you have to take that, and then that will cause ____, so then you’ll have to take this other pill, which causes ____,” ad infinitum.

I had forgotten about trazadone- that’s an oldie but goody. Are there any supplements or herbs that are proven to help insomnia and/or anxiety- that actually work?

And is it still safe if you don’t increase your dose? I’ve been taking the Xanax for a year, and still the same dose- a half in the morning and a whole one at night. Is that safe long-term?

I was suprised when the sleep doctor said this was no problem. YMMV of course, but I take it all the time. Ambien is good to, so I alternate when I have a script.

I’ve always been a terrible sleeper. I don’t have trouble staying asleep, but I lie awake forever until I do sleep.

Interesting, because the lorazepam didn’t really do anything for me, except make me slightly drowsy. I wonder if lorazepam is like a “starter” anti-anxiety, and then if it doesn’t work, then Xanax is prescribed. It just sucks having to wait 1-2 months between psychiatrist appointments to see if he will prescribe something else.

Also, a question: if the Xanax helps you fall asleep, then doesn’t it make you sleepy at work when you take it in the mornings at work? I’d probably be falling asleep at my keyboard…

p.s. I also don’t like OTC “sleep aids” like Benadryl/dipenhydramine either. I am way too groggy the next day.

What works for me is 1mg of melatonin and 2 valerian root pills or a benadryl. The melatonin tells my body its time to sleep and the valerian or bendryl makes me sleepy.

There are various tea blends like SleepyTime herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings that some people swear by. I tried it once and it seemed to work but that isn’t a very big sample size. If there are any herbal stores near you, ask them about it. Even though the people tend to be hippy-trippy, they tend to be somewhat helpful but you may need to try multiple things and let your doctor know about them.

It don’t want to repeat myself but I have a special hatred towards Effexor. I woke up one morning and decided to take a trip and just left my wife and very young daughter for no reason whatsoever. 11,000 miles later I decided to come home for no reason either. I didn’t sleep for days at a time and my whole personality changed because of Effexor. I have never taken amphetamines but that must have been similar. I checked myself into the hospital as soon as I got back because my normal self was screaming at me to do something and neither I nor the people I love could tolerate it. Not everyone has the same experience but it sounds like you have a partial effect that I did. Be careful with that drug. No doctor can tell you what effect it will have on you because no one fully understands how it works.

I take trazadone. For me, it works fine, and I have been taking the same modest dose for many years. My doctor explained to me that it’s an old anti-anxiety medicine that is not used all that often specifically for that, because for most people it has the side effect of making them really sleepy. Plus it wears off in just a few hours. So for me, tossing about trying to sleep with the cares of the day poking at my brain, it was just the thing. It has not been addictive; if I’m on vacation or for some other reason don’t care whether I fall asleep early or not, I just don’t take it, and I’m fine.

I was originally prescribed Ambien. It did put me to sleep – like a sledgehammer. I would wake up after it wore off, and feel exactly the same as when I fell asleep. I did not feel refreshed or rested; whatever I had been most anxious about was in the same place in my consciousness, it was just several hours later.

Before that, I had good results for a long time with L-Tryptophan, but I think that’s not generally available now because a batch coming in from IIRC China made some people very ill, and they blamed the L-T.

A whole Xanax makes me fall asleep- a half of one just makes me feel normal. I have a “high idle”, so just a little of it brings me down to a normal level. Plus I drink a little coffee in the morning.

But aren’t you bipolar, and aren’t these things that under- or unmedicated bipolar people do? What does the Effexor have to do with it? And why do you think I am having a problem with it? What, the Effexor or the Xanax? My only problem with the Effexor is the insomnia. And constipation, if you must know. :stuck_out_tongue:

Xanax has very fast acting benzodiazepine but its mode of action also decays fairly rapidly. Lorazepam (Ativan) works more slowly and lasts much longer. The two serve different purposes. Xanax is a good choice for rapid sleep induction and panic attacks while lorazepam is better for extended anxiety although its effects will wear off too. The benzodiazepines affect the same brain receptors that alcohol does. Some people call them alcohol in pill form. That isn’t completely true. Different benzodiazepines can be tailored for different purposes.

You should see if you could take a Tricyclic antidepressant like Imipramine. They aren’t used so much because they have a few annoying side affects, but they’ve been around 50 some years. The sides include constipation and dry mouth, which you can counteract by eating prunes and sucking on some candy. They often use them for anxiety because they also have a calming effect.

But they will constipate you like nohting, unless you eat lots of fiber.

The only herbal thing I’ve ever found that works to calm you or make you tired, like a valium or such is Kava Kava. But I’m not sure if you can get that anymore do it Kava’s side effects.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna says “See, it just goes to show ya, it’s always something.”

Yes, but my one and only true manic episode was triggered by Effexor. I am not implying that you are bipolar but what you described is a much smaller version of what I experienced and I don’t want you to go through any problems if Effexor isn’t the right fit for you. I have more experience than you will ever know with trying different drugs and switching psychiatrists and I have gotten burned too many times to count. I finally found a prestigious Harvard professor that would see me and he fixed everything. The moral to this story is to always question your doctors about why they are prescribing the drugs that they give you especially when it comes to psychiatric drugs. It is more of a trial and error art rather than a science and it is the quality of your life that is at stake. There are tons of other choices out there.

I just got off of Imipramine. It had very few side effects… at first. Then my legs stopped working. I literally could not take stairs up or down without clutching the banister tightly. My legs would randomly collapse under me. It was frightening. I don’t know why stairs specifically did it, while normal steps of about the same size did nothing.

Thank you for this. I am in the middle of a long depression and my treatments have not yet been effective, and sometimes I think it’s just me (something’s wrong with me) instead of maybe my doctor hasn’t prescribed the right thing yet.

Thanks for this information. See, I thought I could have used something for sudden panic attacks, because the Ativan doesn’t seem to do anything right away, and only just makes me sleepy like 45 minutes later. In the meantime, I am still freaking out, and it’s usually subsided before the Ativan does anything. Sounds like maybe the Xanax might be more useful.

What about Vallium? What does that do, and how does it compare?