How do you wean yourself off of sleeping pills

on 3/18/12 12:42 am
 Need some suggestions, Have anybody ever wean themselves off of sleeping pills, I know that you cannot do it cold turkey, or can you? I have been on Ambrien for a long time, started taking it when I was menopausal and could not sleep.. But now I have to get off of it, I have tried other sleeping pills over the counter, but so far have not had any success.. I have been getting out of bed and eating and I do not remember it.. That is not good.. My hubby have caught me doing it, He said I look like I am high, IT is a good thing that we have no junk in the house, I was eating  some protein pudding. But that is enough for me, next thing you know I will be out driving somewhere. What would happen if you go cold turkey? with the other sleeping pills I tried, I just toss and turn all nite, and wake up feeling bone tired.. I take 10 mg of ambrien, I have even tried taking 1/2 of it and just toss and turn all night.. Please if anyone have some suggestions I am eager to hear.. Thanks you in advance for your answers :)
Jennifer M.
on 3/18/12 1:41 am - MN
RNY on 02/17/12
 First, are you pre-op or post-op?  There's a big difference.  Ambien now works for about four hours at a time for me.  I don't know why.  I do go back to sleep.

Second, there are a number of prescription sleeping pills other than ambien that work without the sleep walking/eating.  A friend of mine uses trazadone, which tends to work more universally.  

Third, you can get off sleep medications cold turkey.   The key seems to be ensuring that you are getting enough sun shine and/or vitamin D.  Behaviorally, the best way to accomplish this is to go on vacation without your medicine, have an active and fun day, and go to bed no earlier than 10 or 11 p.m.  You will be surprised how easy it is.  You will wake the next day, happy and refreshed and you won't believe that you didn't need a sleep aid.

The problem is that then you come home from vacation, you lose your reserves of Vitamin D, and you need a sleeping aid again.   So, then... how do you change your life to ensure that you are getting enough sun and avoiding stress?  

BTW... just so you know, my Mother and Grandmother had impossible insomnia in later years.  My Mother's insomnia was no doubt caused by depression and anxiety (which I've inherited), but it didn't help that she didn't putter around in the garden or go for walks or go on vacations in sunny places.  My Grandmother's insomnia began after she gave up her house and garden and lost the mobility to hang out outside.  Given that they lived in Minnesota where we don't get enough sun for much of the year, I pay a lot more attention to Vitamin D.

Kat Kat
on 3/18/12 1:50 am - MD
First of all, you need to do this with the help of your doctor. Ambien is pretty addictive as you've found out, and going cold turkey off any of these medications can result in life threatening seizures. I have huge sleeping issues, and the Ambien scared the heck out of me with all the reports of sleep walking, eating, driving and etc. I might have been okay with the sleep cleaning if I had anything to say about it, but I digress. I ended up switching to Ativan and Trazadone. The Ativan got me to sleep, the Trazadone kept me there. I slowly got off the Ativan, and only used it occasionally when sleep just wouldn't happen. I haven't had to take any in several years though.



Cicerogirl, The PhD

on 3/18/12 2:12 am - OH
 Do NOT stop Ambien cold turkey after being on it for so long!

Talk to your doctor about this so you can temporarily or permanently switch to something else.  You may find that, if you are completely through the menopause issue, that you can (eventually) get off the sleep aids completely.


10 years out; 190 pounds lost, 165 pound loss maintained

You don't drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.

on 3/18/12 7:22 am
As a few others have said, DO NOT stop taking it or try to wean yourself off ofit without seeking advice and assistance from a physician.

Cold turkey could be very dangerous.

HW 240/ SW 229/ GW 146/CW 125; OH Support Group Leader   

Starting size:  18W-20;  Present size: 0 or 2; 5'5-1/2" tall. 
Current BMI 20.4 as of 2/13/2013 (normal for the first time in my life).
Goal weight reached on 8/12/2010; As of 1/13/2013, 21 pounds below goal

on 3/18/12 7:45 am
I've worked in a sleep lab for 5 years. The education I received from an Ambien specialist said Ambien is not physically addictive in the classic sense of withdrawls and such. That is why people can take it sporadically or as needed. The worst withdrawl symptoms would include 2-3 days of rebound insomnia, after which things should return to normal. Make sure to establish a solid wake/sleep cycle with exposure to daylight and limited exposure to computers,tablets, phones or any stimulating light 2-3 hours before bed (beware of clocks or other things with blue lights). Make your bedroom a sleep retreat, with no activities but sleep and sex. No TV, or other distracting activities. Make sure there is no light, no noise, phones, alarms..... things that seem innocent, but do disturb your sleep. Does your bed partner sleep soundly? Do they snore or twitch or kick or disturb your sleep in any way? Is there a pet or child that disturbs your sleep? Are there enviromental noises ourside that you can hear? (Traffic, neighbors, animals, trains, etc.) Try a fan or 'white noise' device... something soothing to drown out other noise. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, allergy or other stimulating meds, excerise, etc... 2-3 hours before bed. If only taking 1/2 an Ambien doesn't work, try 3/4 for a week or so, then a 1/2, then a 1/4, then off. The vacation suggestion is excellent if you can afford it. It resets your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake) cycle with exposure to sunlight (your eyes need exposure to stimulate chemicals in your brain) and a re-established bedtime and natural wake routine, besides being relaxing and taking some of the stress out of the process without worries about work or such. Do you have any other issues like restles legs, sleep apnea, or hormone issues that could affect your sleep? If you need further help, see a board certified sleep Dr... regular Dr.s just don't have the specialized knowledge to most effectively help you.
This is the education I've received working in a sleep lab. As always, consult your own physician for help. (I would seek out a sleep specialist myself. You wouldn't believe the erroneous suggetions given to me by regular Dr.s.. even the ones I adore. Sleep medicine is a specialized field. We take sleep so for granted that we just don't realize how much is involved and like any specaility, it requires separate education. Look at how much mis- information regular Dr.s have about gastric bypass for example. They can't possibly be educated in all aspects of our care. Seek out a specialist.)
I hope this helps you some.
on 3/18/12 8:20 am - Somewhere, GA
RNY on 09/27/07 with
I have been weaning myself off Lunesta for the last couple of weeks. I was having the same side effects of "sleep eating" nearly every night.  It wasn't eating protein pudding either, it was sugar free cookies!  I did talk to the dr. about it and she said it was certainly caused by the Lunesta.  I never feel any desire to eat during the night when I don't take a sleeping pill. So I started skipping every other night with the pills, then only taking one every 3rd night, every 4th night, etc.  It's given me pretty broken sleep but I can do without them now.  I still feel a desire to take them, because I know with them,  I will definately sleep.  Not going take them anymore though!
  Good luck and good sleeping!
on 3/18/12 8:40 am
Just want to thank everybody for their input, I will call my doc tomorrow and make a appointment to start getting off of them..
on 3/18/12 11:18 pm
For me, Ambien is the worst sleep / eating offender. It cranks up a mean appetite.  Once I actually drove to a fast food restaurant, and didnt even remember it until I came downstairs the next morning and saw the wrappers on the table.

It is very rare that I take much ambien these days, but when I do I am sure to take it as late as possible, and although it says to take on an empty stomach, I take with food and I keep food in the house so that I never ever sleep drive again. Thinking about that the "day after" was some spooky sh*%, because I drove for fast food that was somewhat far that I never eat, because the restaurants cloest to me must have been closed at that time of night, and I didn't remember a damned thing about it just a vague fog. 

I would DEFINITELY CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR prior to weaning yourself off so that you can get a "taper-off" schedule. At the very least call the pharmeceutical company that makes Ambien and ask them if they have any advice on the safest way to stop Ambien they will tell you if you need to consult a doctor. 

on 3/19/12 1:21 am - philadlephia, PA
WoW... i could have written your post. Pre-op, i never would sleep/eat. other things yes, but eat in bed never. Just this past weekend i accused my partner of eating chips in the bed while i was asleep and how mean that was. as it turns out, i got up and went naked down the steps (cause i could if i wanted - huh?!?) and came back with a bag of chips and said i was grown and could do what i wanted. apparently i ate 3/4's of the bag - this is something i would not even do pre-op! i barely even like chips!i am amazed i did not get sick. i really am. i have no recollection of this at all. so now, like you i worry about the repercussions of sleep/eating and it scares the bejesus outta me. insomnia in times of stress (3 teen-ages = all the time) kills me. i am grateful that so far i have not tried to drive - that would be very scarey, but just in case i now have my partner put the keys up each evening. the things we do!!!

good luck to you (and me too!) and sweet dreams
be well, and take care of you!
Be well, and always - take care of you!