Substance Use

How Does Gabapentin Affect Your Sleep?

young woman sleeping bottle of white pills gabapentin

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Gabapentin Sleep Effects

Gabapentin is part of a class of medications known as anticonvulsants, which means it can decrease abnormal excitement in the brain. This medication is often prescribed for seizures but can also help with restless legs syndrome (RLS), insomnia, and even neuropathic pain caused by conditions like diabetes. Because of gabapentin’s ability to calm the central nervous system, its side effects can change sleeping patterns.

Are you or a loved one struggling with a gabapentin addiction? Zinnia Healing can help. Call us anytime at (855) 430-9439 for information. 

Why Does Gabapentin Affect Your Sleep?

Gabapentin is often prescribed for individuals suffering from primary insomnia because it can improve sleep efficiency and reduce sleep disturbances. The medication works by interacting with a naturally occurring chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA helps reduce excitability in the brain, so gabapentin works by mirroring this chemical. By interacting with specific receptors in the brain, gabapentin is effective at improving a variety of conditions.

The use of gabapentin is widespread in the medical world. Some of its evidence-based applications include the treatment of fibromyalgia and neuropathy, but it’s most commonly used for sleep disorders like insomnia. With just a single dose of gabapentin, someone suffering from insomnia will find it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep.

How Does Gabapentin Change Your Sleep?

Gabapentin is considered highly effective for the treatment of insomnia for a few reasons. First and foremost, it improves sleep quality by reducing spontaneous arousal in the brain. It also increases total sleep time thanks to fewer awakenings and its ability to help individuals go to sleep faster. Lastly, one of the key effects of gabapentin is that you’ll enter slow-wave sleep sooner and stay in it longer.

To summarize, gabapentin may help you:

  • Get to sleep faster
  • Stay asleep longer
  • Reach a period of deep sleep sooner
  • Wake up feeling better rested

Given the direct impact sleep quality has on mental health (especially depression and anxiety), gabapentin is considered highly effective as a sleep aid for individuals suffering from certain disorders, such as insomnia. However, other sleeping pills exist if you have trouble sleeping for other reasons.

Can Gabapentin Cause Sleep Problems?

Gabapentin is not only prescribed for insomnia. For instance, your doctor might give you gabapentin if you’re suffering from a variety of non-sleep-related medical conditions, such as postherpetic neuralgia. In these instances, gabapentin is often used to stop nerve pain, but you may also experience changes in your sleeping patterns as a result of how the drug works.

No matter why you’re taking it, the efficacy of gabapentin relies on its ability to reduce nerve cell excitability, which can lead to drowsiness. When not taken as a sleep medicine, you might find that gabapentin’s calming effects negatively impact your life. For instance, you may experience:

  • Sleepiness throughout the day
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Uncontrollable shaking and tremors
  • Changes in appetite and digestion

As you can see, even when taken as prescribed, gabapentin can impact your sleeping habits.

Does Misusing Gabapentin Affect Your Sleep?

If you’re taking antidepressants or other prescription medications, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking gabapentin. Mixing gabapentin with drugs or alcohol is dangerous as different medication combinations change how the drug works within the body. Not only can the combination be uncomfortable, but it could prove deadly, with some medications substantially increasing your risk of overdose.

What’s more, mixing gabapentin with other doses or using it in higher doses than prescribed can worsen the side effects you experience. For instance, some individuals report that they developed insomnia — a key condition the drug is supposed to treat — when using gabapentin. If you’re taking gabapentin, it’s important to recognize that your tolerability for the drug increases quickly and can lead to physical dependence even with a prescribed dose.

If you’re using gabapentin off-label without a prescription or in higher doses than your doctor prescribed, it’s important to reach out for help. Even if you haven’t noticed any adverse effects on your sleeping patterns yet, misuse of gabapentin is dangerous.

Are you or a loved one suffering from substance use disorder? Zinnia Healing can provide assistance. Call us anytime at (855) 430-9439 to discuss your treatment options in a confidential phone call. 

Coping With Sleep Problems Caused by Gabapentin

While you might not appreciate the drowsiness gabapentin can cause, the treatment effects of gabapentin generally outweigh any changes to your sleep. Instead of taking you off gabapentin completely, your doctor may suggest alternative coping and management methods to help you get better sleep while still enjoying the benefits of gabapentin for your condition.

The CDC makes a few recommendations to help improve sleep quality, including:

  • Napping throughout the day to catch up on sleep if you feel drowsy
  • Getting lots of physical activity, especially during the early morning hours
  • Avoiding caffeine and naps in the four hours leading up to bedtime
  • Creating a healthy nighttime routine that prepares your body for sleep
  • Going to bed and getting up at a consistent time each day
  • Practicing breathing exercises to help you get to sleep faster

Your doctor can help you cope with sleeping problems caused by gabapentin and might ask you to try a few different techniques, such as keeping a sleep journal. Since medications affect everyone differently, using a journal to note when and how you sleep can help your doctor work with you to resolve any issues you’re experiencing.

How Zinnia Healing Can Help

Gabapentin is often prescribed to treat primary insomnia because it’s highly effective at calming the central nervous system and helping individuals fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep more deeply. However, misusing gabapentin can lead to more severe sleep-related side effects. Plus, those taking gabapentin for reasons other than insomnia may find the drowsiness uncomfortable.

If you or someone you love is taking gabapentin without a prescription or struggling with substance use, Zinnia Healing can offer the guidance you need. Call us anytime at (855) 430-9439 for information. 

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