The active ingredient zopiclone is used as a sleeping pill for the short-term treatment of severe sleep disorders. Long-term use is not recommended, as this can lead to physical and mental dependence. A number of side effects can occur when ingested, including taste disturbances, headaches and memory loss. Find out more about the effects, side effects and dosage of zopiclone here.
Effect of Zopiclone
Zopiclone belongs to the class of GABA antagonists. In addition to zopiclone, this class also includes benzodiazepines such as diazepam, lorazepam or alprazolam.
The active ingredient ensures that the neurotransmitter GABA can flow more into the brain in the body. This has a depressant effect and increases drowsiness. Thus, zopiclone shortens the time it takes to fall asleep and lengthens the time it takes to sleep through.
Recommendations for consumption
Zopiclone should not be taken if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, but is only suitable for the treatment of serious sleep disorders.
Since zopiclone can be addictive, it is advisable to use the active ingredient only for a short time. In general, the duration of intake including the withdrawal phase should not exceed four weeks.
Side Effects of Zopiclone
Just like with other active ingredients, side effects can also occur when taking zopiclone. The most common complaints are disturbances of the sense of taste. In addition, headaches, dry mouth, tiredness and a general feeling of weakness often occurred.
Memory disorders were also observed more frequently in patients while taking the sleeping pill: In some cases, patients could no longer remember actions that they had performed a few hours after taking the drug.
The risk of this side effect depends primarily on the dosage level. Sufficient sleep after taking the medication (seven to eight hours) can significantly reduce it.
More side effects
Occasionally, other side effects may occur while taking zopiclone. These include:
- coordination disorders;
- lack of concentration;
- loss of appetite;
- sensitivity to light;
- gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting;
an altered vision.
Rarely, skin reactions can also occur. A detailed list of all side effects can be found in the leaflet that came with your medication.
While taking zopiclone, side effects can occur that contradict the actual effect of the sleeping pill. This can lead to excitement, restlessness, aggressiveness, outbursts of anger, delusions, hallucinations and psychoses.
If such paradoxical reactions occur, you should contact your doctor immediately and discuss stopping treatment with him.
Zopiclone can be addictive
Similar to benzodiazepines, zopiclone can become addictive if taken for a long time. Due to the high physical and psychological potential for addiction, the active ingredient should not be taken for more than a few days at a time. If zopiclone has to be taken over a longer period of time, withdrawal symptoms must be expected when the drug is discontinued.
Due to the risk of addiction, zopiclone should only be used in exceptional cases and after a careful risk-benefit analysis in people with a history of alcohol or drug dependence. They are particularly at risk of becoming addicted. In addition, the duration of treatment and the dosage of the sleeping pill also influence the level of risk.
Properly discontinue zopiclone
After prolonged use, the active substance should not be discontinued abruptly, but gradually. Otherwise, severe withdrawal symptoms can occur. However, these can be alleviated by gradually reducing the dose.
Since withdrawal symptoms can sometimes occur even after taking the sleeping pill for a short time, a slow reduction in the dose can also make sense here.
Symptoms upon discontinuation of zopiclone
The typical symptoms that can occur when you stop taking the drug include problems falling asleep and staying asleep, restlessness, anxiety and mood swings.
If there is a physical dependency, further complaints are possible. This can lead to headaches, muscle pain, confusion and irritability. In severe cases, symptoms such as personality disorders, loss of reality, hallucinations and epileptic seizures have also been observed.
Dosage of Zopiclone
Zopiclone requires a prescription and is therefore not available without a prescription. It can only be taken on the advice of a doctor – you should also discuss the dosage of the sleeping pill with him.
Unless otherwise prescribed, adults with severe insomnia should take 7.5 milligrams of zopiclone daily. In patients with impaired liver or respiratory function, as well as in the elderly, it is recommended to halve the dose at the beginning.
It is best to take the active ingredient in the evening before going to bed. After ingestion, a sleep duration of seven or eight hours should be guaranteed. This prevents the occurrence of side effects the next morning – such as a slowed down ability to react.
If you have taken too high a dose of the sleeping pill, you should inform a doctor immediately. A slight overdose is manifested by signs such as drowsiness, drowsiness, blurred vision, muscle weakness, slurred speech and a drop in blood pressure.
At higher doses, symptoms such as unconsciousness, respiratory disorders and circulatory collapse can occur. In particularly bad cases, flumazenil is an effective antidote.
If zopiclone is taken together with other medicines, interactions can occur. These medications include:
- sedating antihistamines;
- narcotic analgesics;
Taking the drugs can reinforce each other’s effects. As alcohol can also cause this, alcohol should not be drunk during treatment with zopiclone.
The effects of zopiclone can be increased by taking macrolide antibiotics, cimetidine, imidazoles and triazoles and grapefruit juice. The active ingredient itself, on the other hand, enhances the effect of muscle relaxants.
The effect of zopiclone can be weakened by taking antiepileptic drugs such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital and phenytoin as well as the antibiotic rifampicin.
Zopiclone must not be taken if there is hypersensitivity to the active substance. In addition, the intake is also contraindicated in the following diseases:
- severe hepatic impairment;
- severe respiratory dysfunction;
- sleep apnea syndrome;
- pathological muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis).