Zaleplon for Insomnia

Last updated: March 28, 2019

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The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

What is Zaleplon?

Sleep is considered the fuel of life. It is through sleep that we recharge and heal our bodies. However, not all of us can fall asleep at will. It is estimated that in the US alone, 60 million people suffer from sleeping disorders. These are ordinary people who are often forced to rely on medications to help them fall asleep. Zaleplon is one such medicine.

Approved in 1999 by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Zaleplon is a sedative or hypnotic drug commercially available under the name Sonata.

Sedatives are potent medications that are effective in inducing sleep.

This drug is used to treat people with sleep onset insomnia where patients experience difficulty in sleeping. This is different from sleep maintenance insomnia described as the difficulty in staying asleep. If you have sleep maintenance insomnia, this may not be the right medication for you.

How does Zaleplon work?

Zaleplon is a type of sleep medication classified as a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic. It works by targeting the receptors in the brain called GABA-A receptors, which in turn triggers the release of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain.

GABA is a natural nerve-calming agent and when released, it can help balance the nerve activity in the brain thereby promoting sleep. Other effects include reduced anxiety and relaxed muscles.

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Zaleplon works by decreasing the time it takes you to fall asleep. This means you don’t have to spend hours tossing and turning in your bed just to find the best spot to doze off.

What is the recommended dosage of Zaleplon?

For adults, the usual dosage is 5-20 mg, but the most common dosage for healthy adults is 10 mg. The 5 mg preparation is recommended to small adults with low body weight and for people who are over the age of 65. For those with serious health problems, a dose of 5 mg is recommended. Keep in mind not to take more than 20 mg of Zaleplon a day.

When is the best time to take Zaleplon?

You should take Zaleplon before bedtime on an empty stomach. The sleep-inducing effects of Zaleplon only take about 30 minutes before they take effect. On the other hand, the effects of the medication only last for a few hours.

You are highly discouraged to take Zaleplon with a heavy meal or else it will delay or hinder the sleep-inducing activity of the drug.

Can I take Zaleplon whenever I want to?

Zaleplon should be taken exactly as directed by your physician. Strictly adhere to the regular schedule. If you forget to take a dose of Zaleplon, skip the dose and take the next dose at your scheduled time.

Remember that taking Zaleplon is not like taking multivitamins that you can take any time you want.

What type of activities should I avoid if I take Zaleplon?

You should not take Zaleplon together with other drugs that can cause drowsiness. Taking two types of medications that can cause drowsiness is a recipe for disaster.

Needless to say, you should not take Zaleplon if you need to drive. Driving requires complete attention and mental alertness. If your job requires you to operate heavy machinery, this medication should not be used.

Can everyone take this medicine?

The answer is simple. Not everyone can take Zaleplon. This is not recommended for people who have a history of drug dependence. Those with psychiatric disorders or depression should be closely monitored when using Zaleplon because it may just aggravate the condition. You may be doing more harm than good.

Zaleplon can also become a drug of abuse. Make sure that you take it only as directed.

Adolescents under 18 years of age should not take Zaleplon. If you suffer from abnormal muscle weakness or myasthenia gravis then you should not take zaleplon. This is also contraindicated to people with severe breathing problems.

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Zaleplon is also not recommended for pregnant women. Although there is no proof that Zaleplon can affect an unborn child, it is better to err in caution.

Sonata, the commercial name of Zaleplon, contains lactose, and should never be taken if you have the rare hereditary disorder called galactose intolerance. People with Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should also avoid taking any form of this drug

How long can I take Zaleplon?

Zaleplon is a medication intended for short-term use only. If you want to take Zaleplon for more than 10 days, you need to get re-evaluated by your physician. This will help your physician determine if your sleeping difficulty is a result of other factors. Extended or long-term use of Zaleplon may cause tolerance. It is then advised not to take the drug for longer than 2 weeks.

Can Zaleplon cause allergic reactions?

Yes, taking Zaleplon may result in a severe allergic reaction. Get medical help immediately if you think that you are allergic to it. Common allergic reactions include hives, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and vomiting. If you feel some swelling in your face, tongue, mouth, or throat; you may be showing allergic reactions.

What are the common side effects of Zaleplon?

Common effects of Zaleplon include the following:

  • Sleepiness or somnolence
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Painful periods
  • Paresthesia or pins and needles usually felt in the hands or feet

Can Zaleplon affect my senses?

Yes, Zaleplon can impair your senses. It can cause double vision, slurred speech, and increased sensitivity to noise. Taking the medication can also cause an abnormal reaction of the skin to light or photosensitivity, which later on lead to rashes.

What are the other possible side effects of Zaleplon?

Uncommon effects of Zaleplon include the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Depressed mood
  • Asthenia or the weakening or loss of strength
  • General feeling of being unwell or malaise.

With all these in mind, always consult your doctor and find out if Zaleplon is the best alternative to manage your sleeping disorders.

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