Xanax alternatives and other tips for sleeping well – Medical News Today

Xanax is the brand name of alprazolam, which is a type of benzodiazepine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved Xanax as a treatment for insomnia. An alternative treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The FDA have only approved Xanax for the treatment of panic disorders and anxiety. If a person is taking Xanax, they may be at a greater risk of an opioid overdose, as many people have a prescription for both drugs.
People should also seek guidance from a doctor if they plan on stopping Xanax or reducing the amount of Xanax they are taking. This is important, as they could experience severe withdrawal effects, which in some cases are fatal.
Xanax is an addictive medication, so if a person feels they are becoming dependent on it, they should reach out to an addiction center or talk to their doctor.
Learn more about addiction here.
This article will discuss how Xanax works, alternative options, and when to see a doctor.
Benzodiazepines help a person fall asleep by enhancing the effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter that calms brain activity, which can help a person relax and fall asleep.
Benzodiazepines work differently depending on the type a person uses. For example, there are fast- and slow-acting benzodiazepines.
In some circumstances, a doctor may prescribe fast-acting benzodiazepines if a person struggles to fall asleep.
Fast-acting benzodiazepines exert their effect quickly, and a person will feel this effect less the next day. However, doctors prescribe these only in special circumstances, as a person could experience rebound insomnia or amnesia.
Xanax is a fast-acting benzodiazepine, and a person may take it before bed to help with their anxiety and to fall asleep.
Xanax is an addictive medication. If a person uses Xanax regularly, they may develop a dependency on it to reduce their anxiety.
The American Addiction Centers note that when a person tries to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that are similar to their initial anxiety. This can result in the person taking the medication for longer than the recommended duration, which is up to 6 weeks.
In addition to addiction, a person may also experience side effects. Common side effects may include:
Please note that this is only a partial list of possible side effects. A person should speak with their doctor before taking Xanax, as it can interact with other types of medication.
Alternative treatments may include not only different medications but also therapy.
Before taking Xanax or other medication for insomnia, a person should consider CBT. Research suggests CBT could be more effective than medication for long-term insomnia relief.
The American College of Physicians also recommend CBT as a first-line treatment for insomnia.
Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine found in medications such as Benadryl and Advil PM. Drowsiness is a common side effect of products with a strong dose of diphenhydramine in them.
Learn more about diphenhydramine here.
A person should talk to their doctor before taking an over-the-counter sleep aid or allergy medication to help them fall asleep. They should also avoid taking more than one product that contains any type of sedative.
According to a 2017 study, green tea may help promote relaxation. The researchers indicate that L-theanine helps increase mental clarity and relaxation and may help suppress the alertness associated with caffeine.
Learn more about green tea here.
A small 2018 animal and clinical trial study found similar results when researchers gave rats and humans matcha (ground-up green tea leaves). The study found that both the mice and humans in the matcha group experienced reduced anxiety when compared with a placebo.
CBD may help decrease anxiety and improve sleep quality. Researchers found that CBD reduced anxiety scores in nearly 80% of the study participants.
They also found that about 67% of the participants saw improvements in sleep, but the improvements did fluctuate over time. The researchers indicate that further research is needed to fully understand the effects of CBD on both anxiety and sleep.
Learn more about CBD here.
A 2020 study found that probiotics could be an effective additional treatment option, alongside traditional antianxiety medication. The study notes that, because anxiety is often linked with sleep disorders, alleviating anxiety symptoms may also improve sleep quality.
However, the authors of the study state that more studies are needed to fully understand how probiotics help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Learn more about probiotics here.
If medications or supplements are not working, a person could make some changes to their sleep routine.
The American Cancer Society suggest a number of steps a person can take to help them fall asleep:
A person should talk to their doctor if they still cannot sleep after making changes to their sleep routine. A doctor may be able to suggest CBT or an alternative medication over Xanax.
Xanax is addictive, and if a person thinks they are depending on Xanax to cope with day-to-day life, they should contact an addiction support service for more information and assistance.
People should also speak with their doctor if they feel they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping Xanax or reducing the amount of Xanax they are taking.
Xanax is typically prescribed for anxiety. The FDA have not approved its use for treating insomnia. Doctors prescribe Xanax for short periods of time (up to 6 weeks) due to its addictiveness.
As an alternative to using Xanax as a sleep aid, a person may want to try different medications, supplements, or routine changes, such as going to bed at the same time each night.
Before starting any new medication or stopping Xanax, a person should talk to their doctor so they can do so safely. If a person changes the way they are taking Xanax or stops taking it altogether without the appropriate guidance of a doctor, they could endure severe withdrawal effects, which in some cases are fatal.
If a person feels they are becoming dependent on Xanax, they should reach out to an addiction center or their doctor, who can help them make the withdrawal process safe.
Last medically reviewed on November 3, 2020
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