Zopiclone worsened sleep problem, trying to get off

Posted , 4 users are following.

I have been on Zopiclone for over 15 years. The strange thing is it never worked for me but I was desperate as I had to work, so stayed on it for this long. I have tried many other sleeping pills too over the years and none worked. The highest dose I was on was two 7.5mg tablets for a few days. When it had absolutely no effect, it spooked me and I cut it back to one. I am now on 3.75mg and tapering slowly.

I was put on sleeping pills because of insomnia due to severe stress. I was also put on antidepressants in the hope that it would help with my sleep but it made it worse because it was over-stimulating. I also reacted paradoxically to benzos, so they were no help as well.

My sleep now is worse than before I started any medication. The stresses are gone but I seemed to have lost the ability to sleep. My insomnia is quite extreme. I often go for days with zero sleep. A good night is 2-3 hours of broken, half-awake type sleep. I average 14 hours a week. I had to quit my job because I couldn’t function at work. I now have limited ability to go out because of exhaustion.

The years of medications have seriously affected my health. I regret being put on any of them but I can’t change the past. Now I have to do what I can to heal my body. These drugs mess up the neurological systems governing sleep. Sometimes I get really frightened the damage is permanent.

To get off these drugs I had to deal with the issues that led to taking the drug. It also needs to be tapered at a rate that is comfortable for you. This means you would need a doctor who will write the scripts to facilitate your taper. It helps to have supportive people in your life. I struggle with this as I don’t have any family close by. I find that one of the most critical factor is to MINIMISE STRESS and beware of hidden stresses too. Eat healthily, avoid coffee, alcohol, very loud music, violent movies, etc. Keep things simple.

As I could no longer work I had to really live a very simple life and try and make my resources stretch. Had to make some big changes but you get used to it.

I pray that all of us who are struggling to get off the drugs can one day sleep deeply, naturally, adequately and wake up refreshed. I believe it can be done but requires patience, faith and commitment. I look forward to the day when I can post a success story that can encourage others. In the meantime I am far from there, and most days I really struggle and feel very frighten and alone.

1 like, 11 replies

Report / Delete

11 Replies

  • Posted

    I have known people who throughout their entire lives have needed no more than 3-4 hours sleep and then are wide away feeling fine all day long.

    The problem is that without sleep the average person starts to feel irritable and

    has no energy.

    Why is it that some people need sleep and some don't? Is the answer pscychological or is it chemical? I suspect that it is mainly the later. Just look at a child sleeping and as they wake they have that groggy behaviour consistent with coming out of a drugged slumber.


    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi Dave88, thanks for posting.

      The amount of sleep required for optimum health and cognitive functioning varies from person to person and depends on situations as well. The majority of people do best on least six hours and the recommended norm is 7-9 hours, which is the envy of those of us who are struggling to even get our 2 or 3 hours. Lack of sleep on a consistent basis affects our ability to be alert to drive and operate machinery. It affects our memory, response to life stresses and making good decisions.  It feels so good to wake up refreshed and resilient. I would choose this anytime over winning the lottery.

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    asterix--i think your story is a success story because you were up to 2X 7.5 and now you're down to 3.75.  i know that is not easy and takes commitment and dedication.

    In response to what Dave said--i think it's both bio-chemical and psychological, i mean, what i should say is, in my case it's both.  There's no doubt about it that many times i feel better, more energy, more motivated on days when i had very little sleep the night before, say, 4 hours or less, and other times i have what for me is a lot of sleep and i don't feel that good, i feel tired, so there's more going on than just the sleep meds.  There are physical things, health things, maybe it's nutrition, various things going on with any individual.

    The psychological part, for me, is that even though i know for a fact that just bceause i get "little" sleep doesn't mean i will feel tired or yucky the next day, still because there are also days when i get 3 or 4 hours of sleep and i do feel yucky, i feel tired, i feel fragile, and i feel unmotivated to do anything and i feel so tired that i can't even enjoy watching a TV show, i can't enjoy social media, etc, it's painfully boring, i just have to get through those days.  But for me, the truth is, i more often do NOT feel bad when i get 3 or 4 hours of sleep, and also, in my case, it tends to happen that if i only get a little sleep, i usually sleep better the next night.  That isn't always true but is try more often than not.

    But despite this variability and despite the FACT that just because i get 3 or 4 hours sleep doesn't mean i'm going to feel bad, i will take a second dose of (very short acting) zolpidem durign the night, after i've had 4 hours of sleep, in order to get more.  i am struggling with this and working on it.  I expect to get through it and overcome my way of just continuing to poison myself.

    i do not believe that the damage to sleep is permanent, though many people including medical people, do think this.  i do think that if you have been depending on a crutch for sleep for a long time, again, in my case, it will be a long time for the body to consistently sleep well, at least a lot more well than what i currently have.  

    I first began using something that put me to sleep in 1967, it was marijuana and at the end of a long night, smoking one would put me to sleep. i don't remember the details but i guess eventually this didn't always work anymore and that was when my doctor prescribed Valium for sleep, diazapam. It worked. i liked it.  i was in my 20s then.  i took it for 20 years, til 1993.  Then i got a tolerance when i was up to 30mg a night for a brief time and since it wasn't working anymore, i just quit it, cold turkey. I would never ever have considered tapering, i didn't even know there was such a thing. I just thought, "it's not working so what's the point in taking it?"  and i stopped. i had some withdrawal symptoms for a few days, the worst was only two days, and it wasn't THAT bad, and then it was over, except sleep was no longer controled by taking the medication, i had to just hope for the best each night.  

    But over time, it progressed, showing that at least in my case, the body adapts--that was after about 25 years of sleep aid and while far from perfect, my sleep just kept getting better, longer stretches, like 5 or 6  hour stretches, and able to get back to sleep, that was after 4 to 6 months.

    But during that time, my doctor, when i told him i sometimes would go 3 or 4 days with very little sleep (and i had a really intense social worker job and was a single parent of a little kid) prescribed zolpidem (Ambien). i was just really happy to no longer be poisoning myself so i was reluctant to take it, so for a year or two, i just took it once in a while, maybe 3 times a month or less.  But at some point, i increased it and then took it regularly and i am still taking it now.  

    So it's now been about 45 years of using a sleep aid. And i added zopiclone into the mix about a year and a half ago.  In January and February this year, i tapered off the Zopiclone and didn't have any diffculty with it, that is, i was able to get off it easily, *because* i was taking a lot of zolpidem so i never had to deal with not being able to sleep.  

    I went to an addiction medicine doctor for help getting off the zolpidem and he advised going onto diazapam and quitting the zolpidem which i did, no problem with that, i switched from Ambien to Diazapam, which i had thought i would never take again. But then i was supposed to taper off the diazapam pretty fast and i tried doing 1mg a week, and when i got to 7mg, i gave up, went back up to 8mg and have added zolpidem/Ambien back in with it.  This had to do with some life events that caused sleep challenges.  

    Having said all this, i don't feel that helpless to get off these meds. i believe i'm making choices to continue to take it and that's where the psychological part comes in. i know in fact from past and recent experiences that i can sleep without the meds, not at first, but that if i stay off of them, my body will adapt, the neuro-chemistry will adapt. I won't be like those lucky people who just zonk out at night and sleep deep for 9 hours, but i don't need to be like that to be happy and to feel well. I know that.  It's the psychological stuff that's in my way and that i have to deal with. 

    In the middle of this project of quitting the sleeping meds, i found out i have this very rare and potentially dangerous illness, it's an insulinoma, there are 4 per million a year (according to the usual web sources, wikipedia etc). It's a tumor on the pancreas that secrets insulin into the blood, and if you're not diabetic and don't have high blood sugar, then insulin will make your blood sugar extremely low, and that can be dangerous, causing seizures, coma, brain damage in extreme cases, including death. My glucose is so low in the morning when i haven't eaten for many hours, that it's considered "critical."  

    My doctor told me i need to eat every hour and a half, 24/7, i'm like, yeah right, with my insomnia, and the sleep meds i take, i'm not going to be waking myself up in the night to eat.  But i do keep food by my bed. i guess i have had a coma and possibly a seizure before in the morning because two days in a row, i woke up laying on the floor next to my bed with no clue how i got there, no memory of it, and unable to get up, strugglilng to get up, disoriented. and then after about 10 minutes i could get up.

    after that, i started eating more. i didn't want to gain weight so i was dragging my feet but now i know what i'm dealing wiht (this was just diagnosed last week) i'm eating like it's my religion.  90% of these super rare tumors are benign in terms of cancer, and the treatment is surgery to remove it, and then, voila, no more low blood sugar and all the impairment that comes with it, you're cured.  So i'm trying to get that arranged now, and i plan to need and use sleep meds because surgery hurts and i want to get through the worst of it with an ability to sleep.

    But when i'm ready and when i'm through this thing, i don't want to taper off these meds anymore. i want to just stop them and let myself go through that process like i did with diazapam in 1993, i always remember that as a huge and happy success. My efforts at tapering have left me feeling like a failure.  

    i thought your story was inspiring and look forward to hearing more from you. 

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      It's funny you mention weed Jaw. I like a bong but if I toke it of an evening it leaves me wide awake at night which is not what you would expect from weed and in my younger day it certainly used to help me sleep.


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Dave -- when i first started thinking of ways to get off zolpidem this year, i thought of getting a medical marijuana card and buying some pot at one of the local legal medical marijuana shops that now exist in my area.  The advantages of it included (in my mind):  1. non-addictive--i had smoked regularly for 15 years and could still sleep without it, and quit cold turkey in 1982, permanently, with no withdrawal symptoms at all, though by then i was taking diazapam;  2. i would get it in an edible form so as not to irritate my respiratory tissue---i smoked weed and cigarettes steadily between the mid 60s and 1982 (when i got pregnant) and now, i am more protective of my health in that way; the local shops have it in all forms; and 3.  fyi, you can read up on this on the web, but different breeds or kinds of weed have different effects. i don't remember the names right now, but there is a kind that is bred to get you high and activate the mind and such (main reason i used to use it, for 'entertainment' or anti-boredom effect), and there is a kind that is bred for sedation. There are other breedings that would combine different effects. I think, but could be wrong, the sedating kind might be called Sativa.  Anyway, i just learned these things earlier this year, all new to me. I have not completely given up on this idea, though all in all, i just want to clean my system out of all kinds of extraneous chemicals. Weed is fat soluble and goes through the liver and will stay in your body for a long time.  It definitely has memory impairment, amnestic effects, like these damn sleeping pills i want to be rid of.  But i do thing that if i oculd use weed to get off of the prescription meds, i could, at least based on past experience, get off the weed easily. The breed i'm interested in, the sativa or whatever it's called, does not (according to what i read) get you particularly high, but just mainly gives the sedating effect.  Of course, i don't know if any of this is true. If were actually going to get into it, i would need to join a discussion forum for medicinal weed and ask some questions. 
      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      If I recall correctly it is Indica that is the couchlock stoners stuff and Sativa is the social stuff. Neither now send me to sleep.


      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Kinda sorry to hear that.  i didn't put much time or energy into researching it, but i would think with all the discussion forums i've perused where people are talking about getting off sleep meds, if cannibus was a decent cross over option, i would see it mentioned, and i never do.  There must be something different in the plants that would account for it not being hepful for sleep as it used to be.  Interesting....  But i think if anyone was interested in making some money, they would be trying to develop the kind of cannibus that would have that sleep inducing effect like it used to have, put it in a pill form, approved by the government and sold on the market,  by prescription i would suppose--i guess there would be no money in it for the big pharma companies because they wouldn't be able ot patent it--i don't know, it seems like a particular formulation would have some proprietary aspect to it, but maybe it can't be made uniform enough, it might differ too much from product to product.

      The sleep effect was different from the prescription meds, i used to take "downers" back in the old days, 60s, early 70s, barbiturates, not habitually, just for fun if some was giving them out, and then came doctor prescribed Valium, and then Ambien.  Marijuana had a more natural gentle but persuasive sedation, though i may be just idealizing it in my memory.  The interesting thing, but i guess this is true of prescription meds too, was that one could take the weed and not feel like sleeping at all and enjoy being awake, but then, if ready to sleep, it really did help you "crash."  

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Paradoxically I found (in my younger day) that after using amphetamine and buzzing around all night that the next night I slept like a log.

       I did ask a GP to try prescribing something like Ritalin which on my theory would make me as active as possible during the day but never got around to arguing my case for latent ADHD.

      I tried to buy Ritalin on the Internet but for some reason it just doesn’t appear online.

      Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      I never realized how many adults take Ritalin, by prescription, until some years ago, sitting around at work chatting with some co-workers, we were all social workers and therapists, and two of the people sitting there said they'd been on Ritalin for a long time, and one guy said he could not function without it, otherwise he wouldn't take it. They both said they had ADHD, they were my age. Both males. I understand ADHD is more common in males. Apparently MDs do treat it with Ritalin for people who are symptomatic. i don't know how they diagnose it in adults. One of my friends said that without it, his mind would not focus.
      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up