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Ambien & Other Sleep Meds


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Hello,

I've had insomnia on and off as a kid - then it got better in college - then worsened again. A few years ago I was given Ambien and take them 'as needed' which probably averages about 4 times/month now.

I know some people take them continuously for years with no issues...but I also know they aren't recommended for long term use.

My doctor feels ok with me taking them on a limited basis (30 pills easily last me 5 - 6 months) because when I go without decent sleep my POTS symptoms get really bad and my work and life suffer. The 'benefit' of Ambien a few times a month outweighs the 'negative' of suffering with constant poor sleep. My sleep schedule gets thrown out of whack easily and Ambien can help fix this. Or if I have a stressful day/time Ambien helps me sleep when otherwise I'd lie there until 4am.

I wondered if anyone else takes Ambien or other sleep-meds as needed and has this helped or hurt you in the long run?

Is there another medicine I should look into that's safer?

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I've never tried Ambien, but I was prescribed Klonopin (Clonazepam) for anxiety. It works great for help sleeping. I use it maybe a few times a month - I can take it during the day or at night. During the day, it does calm you down if you are having a very anxious time (mine manifests very physically, like no appetite, etc) so I really need it to get back on track. Also, I have never had problems sleeping until recently - and only occasionally. If I have a night or 2 during which I wake up - or wake up in the morning feeling bad/anxious/uncomfortable instead of relaxed, I will take a Klonopin the next night to break that cycle so I am not sleep deprived/more anxious. It works great in either case - makes me feel calmer/relaxed/sleepy - but not fatigued - it is a good feeling but doesn't change my personality or make me wake up groggy at all. I am very happy with it - and it is worth taking - no side effects for me. My Px is .5mg - but I take only .25. I never wake up at night if I have taken it - and it makes getting to sleep very easy. It is the only thing I take now - except for my once a month migraine med. I know Klonopin is addictive, but since I use it only as needed - and it really helps with quality of life, it is well worth it. My 30 day Px of .5mg lasts me months - maybe a year.

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I have horrible insomnia, I just can't seem to fall asleep. Once I am asleep I want to sleep for days, but getting there is very difficult for me. Thus far, everything they prescribe me for sleep agravates my pots fatigue the next day to the point where ican't function. I had a REALLY scary drive to work last week, I was falling asleep despite doing everything I could think of to stay awake. So I am back to an herbal sleep aid called Calms Forte. It doesn't always work, but it doesn't seem to agravate my fatigue.

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It is very interesting how medicines work so differently with POTS. Ambien actually can make me have a 'better next day' and since it doesn't bother, the doctor isn't concerned about me taking a few pills a month.

Now Tylenol PM makes me feel pretty crappy the next day, so I don't take that. Doctor said she'd rather have me on Ambien and functioning the next day than Tylenol PM and drowsy/hungover feeling.

I guess I just hope someday I won't have to take this stuff. I tried no caffeine for a month (ahhh!) and didn't notice a difference. I've never got a 'big boost' from caffeine, so maybe it doesn't affect me as much as some people.

For the person who posted about sleep apnea - 1. How did you guess/find out you had it? Are there signs? 2. Why is Ambien bad to use with it?

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I used to be able to take an over the counter sleeping pill as needed. I can no longer take traditional sleeping pills because they make me too groggy and weak the next day to function, and if I lower the dose then I can't sleep. I now take Melatonin each night. It's the only thing that helps me sleep, but also allows me to move the next day.

If I need a really good nights sleep I take a Klonopin. It helps me to get a very good nights sleep, but it isn't quite as hard on me as a sleeping pill. I only take a Klonopin if I'll be able to stay home/in bed the next day. I take about 1 klonopin every month or two. Other than that I have to stick to Melatonin.

Ambien is one I've never tried. My sleep specialist said it wouldn't be a good option for me, but I can't remember why.

I hope you can find the med that helps your sleep.

Rachel

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I have taken ambein everynight for years,I cannot sleep without,I don't seem to have any bad side effects,Pat

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I've had insomnia for years and have taken Restoril off an on for all thoise years. I take only 1/4 to 1/3 every now and hen because Restoril has a half-life of 24 hours, leaving me very groggy..as if I need anything to add to the everpresent tiredness that shadows me.

I'm glad to hear about these other meds and will ask the doctor about Ambien or Klonopin. Sometimes when I need something for nausea I take 1/2 a Gravol or 25 mg (over the counter...mostly for motion sickness), and for the most part this puts me to sleep in the daytime when I don't want to sleep. Perhaps I should try this at bedtime.

Thanks for all the sharing and good ideas.

Mary P

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Both of the Mayo POTS docs have NOT prescribed anything for my son's sleep issues, but a new primary doc (at Mayo) wants him to try Xanax at bedtime. Anyone have any experience with this?

BTW, Calms Forte is homeopathic, not herbal. So, no side effects or drug interactions as you might have with an herbal.

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I take Nortryptiline 50mg at night time along with 6mg of Melatonin. Nort. is a prescription drug, however Melatonin is not, it is a natural chemical in your body that helps with your sleep. I have not had issues with either of these. However, when I dont take Nort. I dont sleep and am in great pain the next day, however I think this is from not getting the pain med relief that I use it for, which in turn makes me not sleep. So I would say they are both safe in regards to dependency, for me anyways. Hope this helps! Good luck!

Mary

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I take Klonopin (although I actually do have anxiety also so I think I take more than it sounds like others take-I take it morning and night every day) and I take melatonin as well when I need help to sleep. My former psychiatrist said he didn't feel Klonopin was a "real" drug and that it was mild, so he wasn't concerned with me taking it every day. I'm not sure that's really an accurate portrayal of it...but anyway, that's what I do to help me sleep. I haven't really slept well lately, but I'm guessing it has to do with recently finishing finals. I hope you get some good sleep!

Meg

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I can NOT EVER fall asleep due to adrenalin surges caused by non fainting POTS and postural changes.

Studied by sleep doc for years, in government studies....only thing to help me but not 100 percent (i can't "CHOOSE when to sleep" but it helps me get to sleep...and that is Klonopin..Generic.

Been taking it since 1990. first with sinequan but THAT made me way too hungover as did another antidepresant. In CFIDS CHRONICLE for CFS Klonopin helped get you to sleep and the antidepressants (old fashioned kind) KEPT you there. They also kept you groggy all day and mess with BP.

I take between .5 to 1mg of Klonopin at night and on rare PMS insomnia occassions, more. I sometimes take melatonin but it's a hormone and I don't like to take it daily.

Klonopin is a LIFESAVER as without it...I can be awake 36 hrs...I spent many sleepless nights in medical studies. The so called "Sleeping pills" never did squat. Not the old Chloral Hydrate or the modern Ambien stuff.

I still have incurable Alpha delta sleep disorder and get very little refreshing, restorative sleep. W/o Klonopin I get NO sleep but have fallen asleep on my own when ill or sleep deprived. Over exhertion or over exercise WORSENS my insomnia, too.

Good luck. Do not let anybody tell you what to take or not to take. Find a doc that will work for what's best FOR YOU.

I am just sharing what helped me.

But without some sort of sleep each night, LIFE IS MISERABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:)

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Ambien ruined a year of my life. I liked it, it made it easy to fall asleep, and I just thought I was (separately) getting worse on a bunch of symptoms. Finally I realized it was mostly Ambien. You aren't supposed to take it for more than a couple weeks (but docs always thought it was benign). Personally I don't do well with benzos either.

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I've been taking Ambien for about 2 years. I take 1/2 or 1/4 of a pill and only do it occasionally. A vial of 30 pills lasts me more than a year, so my doc and I aren't too worried about addiction. But it is essential to get me through the stressful periods and the time around my menstrual cycle when I can't seem to sleep for the life of me. B)

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Ambien ruined a year of my life. I liked it, it made it easy to fall asleep, and I just thought I was (separately) getting worse on a bunch of symptoms. Finally I realized it was mostly Ambien. You aren't supposed to take it for more than a couple weeks (but docs always thought it was benign). Personally I don't do well with benzos either.

Would you mind elaborating on how it effected you? I don't notice any increased symptoms after I take it, but I only take it a few times a month.

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I've been taking Ambien for about 2 years. I take 1/2 or 1/4 of a pill and only do it occasionally. A vial of 30 pills lasts me more than a year, so my doc and I aren't too worried about addiction. But it is essential to get me through the stressful periods and the time around my menstrual cycle when I can't seem to sleep for the life of me. :)

So you only take 2.5 or 5 milligrams? I take a 10mg about 4-6 times/month and it does not seem to worsen my symptoms. It helps me sleep, readjust my schedule (which seems to move off course very easily...), and sleep during stressful times so I can function at my job.

Sometimes I worry about long-term effects, but then I have to work so I can't 'not' sleep...at least not for 2 days in a row. I know everyone has a bad night now and then...but too many of those plus POTS are not good.

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  • 5 months later...

Old post...but I have a question. I am still not trying to take Ambien very much. A few times a month when I need it (doctor says more important to get sleep when I need it and haven't been sleeping well than worry about a few Ambien a month).

Well. I can't tell if I'm more symptomatic in the AM after taking Ambien because of the Ambien or because I take it at the times when I'm exhausted and haven't been resting well, stressful times at work/family, etc.

It's one of those chicken/egg situations!

I guess to get rest dealing with a higher HR/dizziness for a couple hours isn't the worst thing to complain about. It's just really hard to figure out how a medication works with POTS sometimes.

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Have you tried not taking an Ambien on a night when you are super exhausted/stressed/etc. to see how you feel the next day? Trying that may help to answer your question about why you are more symptomatic in the morning after taking Ambien.

Since my reply to this topic in May I have tried Ambien. It was great with helping me to sleep. Fabulous. The problem was that I couldn't wake up well in the morning. Not that I wake up easily anyway, but this really made it tough. I was so grogged out, weak, sleepy, slow, and really had a hard time functioning. There's a toss up between getting sleep and feeling awful in the morning vs. not getting sleep and still feeling awful in the morning!

I still have my Ambien pills and I might use them once every couple of months if I really need a long, hard night of sleep. But I'm only able to use Ambien if I have absolutely nothing to do the next day and can stay in bed all day, have someone bring food to me, help me to the bathroom, etc. The effect from the Ambien lasts through the night and through most of the day for me. But that's just me. Others can't survive without Ambien. I react pretty strongly to sleep meds and can only tolerate melatonin on a regular basis.

I hope you can find out what is causing the symptom flares and what sleep med will work for you.

Rachel

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I am all too familiar with this question :( This one brought me to my knees last August. I've NEVER been able to get to sleep, it's a Circadian thing, you can give me just about anything and it won't do squat till my body says it's time to sleep. If any of you are "night-owls" you may have the same Circadian thing and meds won't work like they are supposed to! Circadian Rhythm disruptions are also a "new" diagnostic malady (since the early 1990's) and most doctors (even older sleep doctors) will look at you like you've sprouted another head. I have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, my clock runs late and my body says "sleepy time" well after midnight. Giving my a sleep med was like giving it to a normal person at 3:00 in the afternoon, it would relax me, but not send my to sleep. On to the meds now, I've tried most of what is out there and found that the absolute guarantee of good sleep is a regular routine, Inderal and Melatonin. Beta Blockers destroy the body's natural melatonin, so I then replace it at bedtime with 1.5mg Melatonin (tiny dose.) I'm out in 10 minutes, it used to take 3 hours! I never thought that Klonopin did anything for my sleep since it did not sedate me, but after coming off recently I noticed that it really calms my mind. I thought about more when I did not take it and that made it harder to sleep, and if I woke up I would again start thinking...but it did nothing for me to feel sleepy.

I've tried the following with these results:

Amitryptaline--vicious headace

Trazadone--nothing

Mirtazapine--worked too well, slept for days but food tasted FANTASTIC!

Sonata--too short acting, built tolerance fast

Ambien--short acting, did nothing after two days

Ambien CR--again did nothing after two days

Lunesta--tastes AWFUL, stopped working after two days

Benadryl (double strength)--allowed the nudge toward sleep if I was already tired, extremely short acting

Most sleeping meds will act on the CNS, that's why they work! But if yours is revved from adrenaline they won't, or if your body says it's time to be awake they won't. If you have apnea, you may not want them to work! If you think that you have a Circadian issue, google the Horne-Ostberg Morningness Eveningness Questionaire and fill it out and take it to your doc. There is not much that can be done to successfully shift a circadian clock, but the awareness will take much of the stress away.

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I tried to do the Ambien 'test' (take it and see if my symptoms worsened the next day), but the next day I was hit with 'outside' stress so I'm not sure if the Ambien or the stress caused worsening conditions (fatigue + greatly increased HR).

I've done a lot of searching online...I can't find anything that really discusses Ambien + next day tachycardia. Anything I've even seen says it causes it when taking it. Not the next day.

Is there anything in Ambien that could cause my POTS (specifically my heart rate to increase from the average of 80-95 sitting/95-125 standing to 85-105 sitting and 120-155 standing the next day)? The last two times I've taken it, I had a 30bpm increase on average the next day which led to fatigue, mental fog, etc.

I think I may try a half dose and really try to pay attention (or try it when I'm in a good spell) to see if it's really the Ambien.

I need sleep (and I work and it's hard to function without enough sleep)...and I've used Ambien occasionally for years. Now I'm wondering if it doesn't work, what else can I try? Any suggestions? I've seen Advil PM at the store...is that similar to Benadryl without the antihistamine? I can't go 2 or 3 days with little or no sleep (if I have a bad spell) and work and function.

I am at my wits end if my Ambien is now worsening my POTS. I'm afraid any other CNS-depressant medicine will have the same affect.

Edit: I see a lot about Klonopin...I think I need to bring this up with my doctor, but I'm worried they'll think I'm imagining the Ambien issue!

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Catlady,

Any over the counter sleep aid will have Benadryl in it, and Bendadryl is a CNS depressant. Most sleep aids affect the CNS. Klonopin is a BIG TIME CNS depressant. Melatonin works great for me, it lowers my HR and BP an hour after I take it. It is most effective for me if I take it when the BB is still in effect and at a tiny dose (1.5mg).

Rozerem is super melatonin (not actually, but it works on the same receptors in the brain.)

Sonata worked well, just not all night for me.

Chamomile tea works quite well if you are already tired.

Warm milk and cookies (I kid you not. Again, you have to be "ready" for sleep)

Have you seen a sleep specialist?

Jennifer

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