Methadone Sleep Effects
Methadone is a man-made opioid. It’s most commonly prescribed to help those recovering from opioid use disorder, such as heroin addiction. When used for medically assisted treatment (MAT), methadone is often taken for a very long time, if not indefinitely. Unfortunately, taking methadone can lead to trouble sleeping. In fact, reduced sleep quality is a well-known side effect of methadone that needs to be managed closely.
Why Does Methadone Impact Sleep?
One of the most common side effects of taking methadone is drowsiness. Some people taking methadone may even experience extreme fatigue, especially when they first start taking the medication and haven’t yet begun to adapt to its characteristics.
The reason why methadone can lead to sleepiness is simple: It promotes chemical changes in the brain’s chemistry.
Like other opioids, methadone interacts with opioid receptors to change how your body perceives pain. However, methadone is unique in that it also blocks the production of the euphoric feeling caused by drugs like heroin. This is why methadone is highly effective at helping individuals recover from opioid addiction.
Unfortunately, alongside stopping pain, methadone directly impacts the chemicals that handle sleep regulation in the body. While this is often considered a worthwhile trade-off, given that methadone can greatly reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with opioid recovery, the sleep disturbances can be unpleasant.
Since methadone maintenance treatment is common and may mean taking methadone for a long time, it’s important to understand the sleep problemsmethadone can create so you can prepare for them and manage them better.
What Sleep Problems Can Methadone Create?
Most often, methadone leads to sleep problems in the form of reduced sleep quality. While it causes drowsiness, those taking methadone may find they have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
When they do sleep, they may also find that the sleep feels less restful. In fact, countless studies have shown repeat sleep complaints, and while subjective sleep quality is hard to measure, it’s well-known that methadone reduces overall sleep time and sleep efficiency.
Because methadone causes an individual to sleep less and to sleep less deeply, you may experience a range of side effects, including:
- Drowsiness throughout the day
- Reduced alertness
- Decreased cognitive function
- Trouble getting to sleep
- Trouble staying asleep
If not managed properly, the sleep disturbances caused by methadone can lead to sleep deprivation, which is dangerous in itself. Over time, sleep deprivation can worsen sleep-disordered breathing and have negative impacts on a person’s psychiatry by worsening depression and anxiety.
If you are currently suffering from any mood disorder (or have in the past), it’s important to tell your doctor about it before taking methadone. It’s also important to mention any sleep disorders to your doctor, as it will allow them to manage your side effects more effectively. This may mean adjusting your methadone dose or providing you with sleep medications to improve the overall quality of your sleep.
It can be hard to recognize the signs of drug abuse. If you think you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder, Zinnia Health can help. Call our helpline anytime, day or night, at (855) 430-9439 for advice.
Are Sleep Problems Caused by Methadone Dangerous?
All opioids are known to interact with alertness and cognitive function and often result in changes to sleeping habits. With that in mind, most people who begin taking methadone for reasons of opioid use recovery will have already been experiencing sleep issues as a result of substance abuse. Still, the combination of opioid recovery and sleep problems caused by methadone can seem like too much to bear.
The good news is that methadone treatment generally makes opioid recovery substantially easier by reducing withdrawal symptoms, and most dependent persons will opt for methadone and sleep problems over undergoing recovery without medication. Still, taking strides to protect yourself from potential sleep-related risks is important for ensuring lasting recovery and overall well-being.
The most common sleep problemsmethadone-dependent patients experience include:
- Increased daytime sleepiness
- Reduced alertness and cognitive function
- Sleep deprivation
- Opioid-induced insomnia
In general, sleeping problems caused by methadone do not pose long-term risks to your health as long as you’re working with your doctor to manage them.
How to Manage Sleep Problems Caused by Methadone
One of the things your doctor may recommend if you’re experiencing sleeping problems while taking methadone is to self-report using daily sleep diaries. These diaries can help you track when you sleep, how long you sleep, how well you sleep, and when you wake. The diary will also help you track your wakefulness, which is how alert you are when not sleeping.
Participating in sleep studies may also be an option if you are experiencing severe sleep problems, but poor sleep quality in methadone-maintained patients is well understood, which is good news for you. In follow-up visits with your doctor, continue to discuss your progress with drug use recovery and your sleep quality so you can work together to find a program that works for you.
Most often, adapting to methadone will require some changes to your lifestyle, including napping when you’re able. Since you might find that it’s harder to get to sleep and stay asleep at night, napping is a great way to reduce impairment and catch up on much-needed rest.
Meanwhile, managing any co-occurring disorders (like obstructive sleep apnea) can improve the quality of your sleep and reduce sleep-related risks as you recover from opioid addiction.
How Zinnia Health Can Help
Completing questionnaires and overcoming sleep problems isn’t always pleasant, but methadone-assisted recovery is one of the most effective ways to get away from illicit drugs and minimize the withdrawal symptoms that come along with opioid recovery. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the recovery process alone.
Understanding your treatment options is the first step to getting help, whether you’re currently taking methadone and have relapsed or you’re looking for help for the first time. What matters is that you reach out to a knowledgeable team that can guide you through the process. Are you ready to take the next step?