Can Xanax Be Used To Treat Insomnia?

Xanax is a commonly prescribed medication for anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Due to its calming effects, it is also sometimes used to treat insomnia. Xanax use comes with a risk of addiction for some people.

Can Xanax Be Used To Treat Insomnia?

Alprazolam, known by the brand name Xanax, is a prescription medication in the drug class of benzodiazepines (benzos). Other commonly prescribed benzos include Valium and Klonopin.

Xanax is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat anxiety or panic disorders. However, its relaxing, euphoric effects often lead to people abusing Xanax.

Alprazolam is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in all of psychiatry. Occasionally, physicians prescribe Xanax for insomnia or alcoholism off-label.

How Does Xanax Affect The Brain?

Xanax works as a central nervous system depressant. It increases the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which has a sedating effect.

People with anxiety or panic attacks often experience racing thoughts, and Xanax can be used as a treatment option to help slow those thoughts and calm down panicked reactions.

Xanax is a fast-acting drug, with effects that are felt within an hour of taking it. While the effects may wear off after a few hours, Xanax can be detected in a person’s system for anywhere from a week to 90 days.

While it has useful applications in mental health, its use can also be habit-forming and lead to substance abuse.

What Is Xanax Usually Used To Treat?

Alprazolam’s main uses are for anxiety and panic disorders, and it was considered a revolutionary medication for treating these disorders when it was first released in the 1980s.

Since Xanax has a short half-life, people with severe anxiety may take low doses up to three times a day. It is meant to be a short-term solution, but some people are prescribed it for years.

One of its common side effects is fatigue or sleepiness, leading to its use for insomnia. Anxiety and stress can cause insomnia, so Xanax may make it easier for some people to fall asleep.

Treating Insomnia With Xanax

Stress can lead to rapid thoughts, an increased heart rate, and nightmares, all of which make it difficult to fall or stay asleep.

Because Xanax is effective in treating anxiety and stress, it’s sometimes prescribed for insomnia. It is also not uncommon to see benzos used illegally for self-medicating sleep issues.

While Xanax can be an effective treatment for insomnia when used as prescribed, it is not meant to be a long-term fix. Several factors contribute to this.

Effects On Sleep Cycles

Using Xanax for sleep disorders can have detrimental effects on the brain’s sleep cycles. If used for more than a few weeks or months, it may even result in long-term damage.

Every night, the brain goes through four stages of sleep in a cycle that repeats. Stages 3 and 4 provide the deepest and most restful sleep.

It is during this sleep that the immune system is strengthened, tissues are regenerated, and memories are solidified. When stages 3 and 4 are disrupted, the body may not heal properly.

Not spending enough time in these sleep stages can put people at risk of disease, premature aging, and chronic exhaustion. It can also affect learning.

Sleep Hangovers

Sleep hangovers can occur when the body doesn’t get enough restful sleep. When treating insomnia with Xanax, side effects may include feeling groggy, clumsy, or forgetful the next day.

These effects can last all day, and they may gradually worsen if alprazolam is used every night. This can impact your ability to drive and perform complex tasks in everyday life.

After a couple of weeks of use, Xanax’s effectiveness in treating insomnia can begin to wane. As tolerance develops, people might experience rebound insomnia, or insomnia that’s worse than it was before using Xanax.

An alprazolam tolerance can begin building after just one to two weeks of use, so it’s important to seek alternatives to Xanax for treating chronic insomnia.

Side Effects Of Xanax

Xanax’s side effects on the brain and body can be numerous but are generally mild. Some people may experience them the first time they take it, and others not until after sustained use.

If you are attempting to stop taking Xanax, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Seek medical advice if you experience any severe effects.

Some of the side effects of Xanax use include:

  • drowsiness
  • memory disruptions
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • blurred vision
  • appetite changes
  • diarrhea
  • irritability
  • lightheadedness
  • impairment in coordination
  • dry mouth

Alternatives To Alprazolam For Sleep Issues

Many sleep aids can be used in place of Xanax, ranging from over-the-counter and prescription drugs to natural remedies, such as herbal supplements.

Trying cognitive behavioral therapy with a medical professional can also be beneficial for addressing anxiety or stress that may be contributing to sleep problems.

Natural supplements like melatonin, valerian root, magnesium, and vitamin B have proved to be effective in easing insomnia.

There are non-benzodiazepine sleep medications that are designed for treating insomnia as well, such as zolpidem, more commonly known as Ambien, or Lunesta.

These sleeping pills are considered safer for long-term use and have a limited impact on the sleep cycle.

Getting Help For A Xanax Addiction

Using Xanax for insomnia can lead to dependence and addiction. It can also be dangerous to stop taking it cold turkey, and it is preferable to undergo detox with a healthcare provider.

The staff at Spring Hill Recovery Center are trained and ready to help you or your loved one start the path to recovery from drug abuse.

We offer several comprehensive, personalized addiction treatment plans. To learn more, call our helpline to speak with a recovery specialist.

Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team

Edited on: November 4, 2022

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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