Q. I am 30 years old and have a terrible time getting to sleep. I’ve been taking Ambien for more than a year and if I don’t take it I toss and turn all night.
I want to get off it because my husband and I want to start a family. I don’t want to take the medication while trying to conceive. How can I break my Ambien habit and still get some sleep?
A. The official prescribing information warns that abrupt discontinuation of Ambien could lead to withdrawal symptoms. Nonetheless, one placebo-controlled study found no rebound insomnia when people stopped this sleeping pill suddenly, even after they had been on it for a year (Journal of Psychopharmacology, Aug. 2012).
Non-Drug Sleep Tactics
If you work with your doctor to reduce your dose gradually, you should be able to employ non-drug sleep strategies. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one successful approach to insomnia. There are others in our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, such as morning light exposure, acupressure, melatonin or magnesium.
Taking a hot bath about an hour before bedtime is one of our favorites and we hope it will help you, too. Another important tip is to stop looking at computer, tablet or cell phone screens at least half an hour before going to sleep. The blue light these electronic screens emit interferes with appropriate melatonin production by the brain.