sleepy man, Klonopin for insomnia, melatonin under your tongue

In any given year, nearly one-third of North Americans have trouble with insomnia, and between 4 and 7 percent have prolonged difficulty sleeping (LeBlanc et al, Sleep, Aug. 2009). It isn’t any wonder, then, that so many people are eager to find a great sleeping pill. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Many of the medications people use to get to sleep have distressing side effects. What can you do to get a good night’s sleep?

Is Trazodone a Great Sleeping Pill?

Q. What is your take on trazodone for insomnia? My doctor thinks it is a great sleeping pill.

A. Trazodone is an old-fashioned antidepressant that is highly sedating. No doubt that is why doctors prescribe it to treat insomnia.

The FDA never approved trazodone for insomnia, however, and the drug has a number of unpleasant side effects. It can cause morning hangover as well as blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth and dizziness. More serious side effects include liver injury, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms (include QT prolongation) and glaucoma.

Trazodone affects the brain chemical serotonin and can make people more susceptible to serotonin syndrome. We worry about this, as it can be extremely serious. No one should stop trazodone suddenly, as withdrawal symptoms can be troublesome.

Other Options for Overcoming Insomnia:

Our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep offers many other options with fewer side effects. Access to this online resource may be purchased at (It is not a pdf or a printed booklet, but must be reviewed online.)


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  1. Tracy

    I am an RN and very aware of all the awful side effects of sleeping pills prescribed today. My MD and I are in agreement that Ambien and the others in this “family” were not an option for me, due to the risk for dependency and ugly side effects. I have been having trouble staying asleep since menopause hit (age 50) and have tried everything from Benadryl, Melatonin, warm lavender baths, and most recently CBD oil to no avail. I have been taking 50mg of Trazodone for 2 weeks and am so grateful. It is not perfect..but I am sleeping better than I have in the last several years. No hangover, no colorful dreams…yet. Fingers crossed this will continue to be the miracle of restful, peaceful sleep.

  2. Amy

    My husband and I have both, at one point, been prescribed trazadone. I took it, and it worked well for me, however it left me with a horrible headache the next morning. My husband, on the other hand, gets the dizziness, blurry eyes, and hangover feeling. He was even prescribed a much lower dose than I was. I believe that it’s not the medicine itself, it’s all in how your body reacts to it, and if you can live with the side effects.

  3. Jordan

    It gave me awful nightmares and serious weight gain.

  4. Aunty Ann

    Trazodone did nothing for me but make me dizzy about an hour after taking it, then giving me a hangover the next day.

  5. Henry
    Meadows of Dan, VA

    My wife has taken trazodone for 2-3 years, usually 1/4 – 1/2 tablet at bedtime with good effect and with no side effects.
    If you have trouble sleeping, I suggest a trial when you will not have to work or drive the next day. If it helps, you are ahead. If not, you take no more.
    I have seen many bad side effects from Ambien, etc.
    In short You have to see how it affects You.

  6. Kenneth
    Cenetral Illinois

    It is true that about one in seven people who are started on Trazadone don’t like the chemical hang over feeling that they get. But most people report that they get a much better night’s sleep – especially falling asleep more easily. The FDA hasn’t approved it because there is no company with a financial interest that would lead them to do the necessary clinical trials. Small scale trials that have been completed show that people fall asleep a little quicker with Trazadone than without it – but not by a big enough margin to explain why so many people say that Trazadone improves their sleep very much. I’ve never had a patient tell me that they had withdrawal effects from abruptly stopping – just abrupt return of problems with sleep.

    Most people quickly get accommodated to trazadone and need a dose increase within the first month in order to keep getting good benefit. As noted, it is a serotonergic drug, so you might want to stay away if you are already on other serotonergic medications (such as Prozac or Zoloft). And note – it is very common for people who take trazadone to report that they suddenly start dreaming in technicolor. Not nightmares, just routine dreams suddenly are in color.

  7. Bill B.

    Trazodone did not work for me at all.

  8. Tracy

    I used trazodone as a sleep aid for about 3 years, and it worked well for that purpose, even at a very low dosage. However, I gradually developed joint pain in my ankles, knees and wrists that got so bad I couldn’t exercise. It went away completely once I stopped taking trazodone.

  9. Deanna

    After years of suffering with insomnia and the resulting chronic fatique, my doctor prescribed Trazodone, and it has worked wonderfully. I am not one who takes prescription drugs if there are other alternatives (particularly those that involve changes in diet and exercise), but nothing has worked for me as well as Trazodone.

  10. Frank
    Estero Fl

    This pill is a joke. It tastes like garbage and then has zero effect on your sleep pattern!
    Don’t waste your money !

  11. Karen PharmD
    St Paul, MN

    Not to mention the rare side effect of priapism!

  12. Pam

    A few years ago, my doctor put me on Trazodone in an effort to help with insomnia caused by fibromyalgia. I was on it just a few days but developed terrible nightmares. Could not deal with that, so I discontinued it.

  13. Constance
    New Jersey

    I was doing fine on a low dose of Ambien and my insurance company insisted I switch to Trazadone. I couldn’t get to sleep for 4 hours after I took it but I was very “fuzzy” from the pill. I was so unsteady that getting up to go to the bathroom before it started to worK, I almost fell down our steps. They put me back on Ambien at my doctor’s request. So far, I am doing well on the Ambien. I am taking Aromasin after breast cancer surgery and that caused the Insomnia. Need to be on it for four more years!

  14. kay
    Washington, DC

    This is disturbing indeed. Two different doctors have recommended trazadone to me for sleep, and friends have had recommendations from their physicians as well. The one who prescribed for me said that it hadn’t been an effective anti-depressant, but had proven effective for sleep. When I spoke to my workplace physician, she confirmed that it was the best pharmaceutical she was aware of for sleep and that many of my coworkers were taking it. The link to the serotonin story hasn’t been work, but I hope you will put more attention on this topic since it seems to impact many people.

  15. Jean

    My husband had difficulty sleeping as an after-effect of the Levaquin he was treated with for pneumonia. He was prescribed trazadone. For most of the next day he was like a zombie from the Living Dead — brain fog, confusion, foot shuffling, disorientation. We attributed this to his recovery from the pneumonia but realized it was completely due to the trazadone when the trazadone was stopped. This drug should be watched closely for nasty after-effects the next day!

  16. Nancy
    Winston-Salem, NC

    I’ve been taking Trazadone for years and it is one of the best things ever to alleviate my insomnia which had been going on for many years. I have never had to increase the amount which I take and have never had the side effects mentioned. For osmeone who has tried everything for insomnia, this might be a solution….at least it is worth trying

  17. Cassandra

    Trazodone has been a godsend for me. I have high anxiety when trying to fall asleep and Trazodone lets me peacefully and gently fall asleep. It feels like naturally getting sleepy, not the one-two punch of a sleeping pill. I’m lucky to have none of the side effects mentioned in this article. My husband, on the other hand tried it and had such severe disturbing dreams, he had to discontinue it. If you are desperate for relief, get evaluated by your doctor to see if you are a good candidate. Unfortunately, your primary care doctor may not have all the information about side effects, so be sure to do your research to share with him or her.

  18. Gail

    I was first given trazodone when I was diagnosed with major depression. It had the benefit of allowing me to sleep through the night. Before I started taking it, I would wake up too early and ruminate on depressive thoughts over and over, falling back to sleep only about half an hour before I had to get up. I was suffering from lack of sleep as well as depression. But I believe trazodone is helpful only for people whose insomnia is due to depression.

  19. Tom

    I have had sleeping issues for years and have never taken drugs to help me sleep. As usual, the medical community has no clue as to the long term effects of taking this drug. I guess if it helps some people with their sleep, the risks may be worth it. Unfortunately, in most cases, you just never know for sure until much later in life what happens to your body when you use these drugs. By then, the damage may be irreparable.

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