A reader sent me a question asking, “Why did my doc prescribe me Trazodone for sleep, when I had been on Ambien© for years…WTF?”.
They go on to say that they had tried Trazodone in the past, and it did not work. Now they are looking for a new doc that will prescribe Ambien.
Ahhh the Ambien quest.
I too have taken Ambien and Ambien CR©. As a nurse working various 12 hour shifts for over 10 years, my sleep/wake cycle was out-of-whack.
One morning while I was deployed I saw my flight doc and he told me about Ambien. That was in 2008. OMG! I instantly fell in love with my new BFF…Ambien. It was wonderful. Prior to Ambien, I was sleeping less than 4 hours a night, now I was sleeping 8 hours. Waking up feeling rested and ready to go.
I kept the relationship with Ambien, then Ambien CR until 2014, when I noticed I was forgetting things and my thoughts were foggy. Also sometimes in the morning, I would find jars of jelly and peanut butter on the kitchen counter, opened…but that is another blog.
I was afraid to talk to my doc…because I feared she would take away my BFF Ambien CR. After all, I prescribe these medications, I know the side effects. And foggy brain, not connecting-all-the-dots and sleep walking/eating/driving are all potential side effects of Ambien use (read the product information with side effects here ).
Well, I got scared one morning when I was trying to talk to my husband. I was having a hard time articulating my thoughts.
That was the moment when I went to my doc.
Guess what happen? She did the right thing and took me off the Ambien AND listed it as an allergy, preventing me from EVER EVER EVER getting it back 🙁 .
Then she prescribed me Trazodone.
No specific instructions were given, just take it at bedtime to make me sleepy. After all I prescribe this medication. I should know how to take it….right? Well, I knew a little, but not the information I needed to use Trazodone effectively.
I started researching. I wanted to know how does Trazodone work and why as an antidepressant it is prescribed for sleep?
What I discovered, changed everything for me. Without the Ambien my foggy brain cleared up pretty quickly. Also no more open jars of jelly and peanut butter on the counter in the morning.
Knowledge, really is power.
Trazodone was originally prescribed for depression. Well, at low doses Trazodone has been found to make you sleepy with out that next day draggin’-your-tail-feeling.
With Trazodone…timing is EVERYTHING.
Some people think and say, “you are what you eat”, I would disagree and say “you are what you absorb”.
When you swallow a Trazodone tablet, it hangs out in your digestive tract, until it is absorbed in your small intestine. That means…there is a delay before it actually works. This delay is dependent on your speed of digestion. Typically, it can take around 90 minutes before you start to feel tired. Also food aides in the absorption.
For me, from the moment I place the pill in my mouth, to the moment I wake up feeling fully rested is 10 hours. I get up early each morning around 4AM. I take my Trazodone with my dinner between 6:00 – 6:30PM, I get sleepy and go to bed around 8PM. I wake up moments before my alarm goes off feeling refreshed.
Trazodone works well for me.
However, I do have to plan it use. Also, no alcohol with this medication. If I choose to have a drink at dinner, then I have made the decision to not take my Trazodone that evening.
It took me awhile to understand Trazodone. Now I think of Trazodone as my “high maintenance friend”, you know the friend that you appreciate, but can also be a pain-in-the-ass if you don’t have certain things in order.
It took a while and I had to make some changes in my sleep habits and there are nights I don’t take Trazodone, but overall it is working for me. Hell, there are those rare nights my sleep is crap. And the next day is forever long..but I push through and take the Trazodone the next night.
I am interested in your experience with Trazodone. Insomnia can be treated. Talking to your doc can be difficult, check out my essay on “Sleep Talk with Your Doc”.
As a trained sleep specialist, I can answer questions you might have about your insomnia and/or medications you are taking…just send me an email and I be glad to answer your questions as I am able.
Here is to a good night’s sleep.