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Do Benzodiazepines Help With Insomnia?

Do Benzodiazepines Help With Insomnia?

Benzodiazepines do help with bouts of insomnia but cannot be used long-term because of their addictive potential.

Insomnia affects more than 3 million people in the United States every year. It is a sleep disorder characterized by persistent problems falling asleep and staying asleep. It can either be acute (short-term) or chronic (lasting a long time, and it can come and go. Short-term insomnia usually lasts from one night to a few weeks and chronic is when it happens at least three nights a week or over three months or more.

Insomnia has two types: primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is when the sleep problems aren’t linked to any other health problem or condition, and secondary is when the sleep issues are connected to a health condition like asthma, depression, cancer, arthritis, heartburn, pain, medication, or substance use.

Do Benzodiazepines Help With Insomnia?

What Causes Symptoms of Insomnia?

There are several causes of insomnia. Primary can be linked to stress, or external stimuli like noise, light, or temperature. It can also be linked to changes in your sleep schedule or genes. Secondary causes of insomnia can be caused by mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It can also be caused by medications for allergies, colds, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma.

Secondary insomnia has been linked to pain or discomfort at night, caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol or drug use as well. Some other causes can include hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, or PMS and menopause.

There are several different reasons why people suffer from insomnia, and it can have a major impact on one’s life. Insomnia can also be difficult to treat.

What Are Benzodiazepines Used for in Medicine?

Benzodiazepines are synthetic drugs that belong to a class of drugs called sedatives. They are commonly used to treat anxiety, seizures, occasional insomnia, muscle spasms, or alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines work on the CNS (central nervous system) by increasing the effect of GABA, a chemical in the brain.

GABA reduces activity in the parts of the brain that are responsible for rational thought. Benzodiazepines are considered psychoactive drugs because they do change the function of the nervous system which alters mood, cognition, behavior, perception, and consciousness.

Benzos are commonly given in a surgical setting in low doses, to reduce anxiety. They are given in higher doses, and with other medications, during surgery to help induce sleep and produce amnesic effects.

Do Benzodiazepines Help in Treating Insomnia?

Benzodiazepines do help with bouts of insomnia but cannot be used long-term because of their addictive potential. They have been commonly prescribed for sleep disturbances since the 1970s, however, they are no longer a good alternative for long-term insomnia because they are so addictive.

The National Institute of Health article titled Medications for the Treatment of Sleep Disorders: An Overview says the following:

Benzodiazepines are frequently used to treat insomnia; however, there may be a withdrawal syndrome with rapid eye movement (REM) rebound. Two newer benzodiazepine-like agents, zolpidem and zaleplon, have fewer side effects, yet good efficacy. (NIH)

Benzodiazepines also come with some pretty debilitating side effects including fatigue, mental fogginess, and altered motor control that can linger the morning after taking them. This can seriously affect a person’s driving safety, decision-making, and job performance.

Benzodiazepines should never be mixed with alcohol, other sedating drugs, or opioids. This can cause serious side effects including slowed or difficulty breathing and even death.

Treatment for Chronic Insomnia

There are several medications that can be used to help with insomnia, however, most of them do have side effects. Finding the cause of your insomnia and treating that if possible is the first best step. The next best thing is to try natural relaxation techniques and change any bad sleep habits you may have. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be effective in the treatment of insomnia.

Effective Treatment Programs for Addiction

Evoke Waltham offers programs that understand how hard the recovery process can be. Recovery is a journey and not a destination. Our broad spectrum of treatment services helps people overcome addiction and mental health issues by helping them change their lifestyles.

We have a team of compassionate and understanding professionals to address any issues you may be having and who are invested in your success. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give us a call and let our team help you.