If you haven’t been sleeping well for years, then you’re very familiar with this poison “sent from above” called Zolpidem (aka Ambien or Stilnox). Tt really comes in handy when the shit hits the fan and you desperately need to get some sleep, any sleep at any price. I probably would have lost my career multiple times if I didn’t use some of these sleeping meds like Zolpidem, Benzos or sedating antihistamines. They do, however, come with one hellish challenge – withdrawals. Everybody has different experiences with withdrawals, largely depending on how long one has taken the pills and at what dosage. The longer you go the more severe your withdrawals would be.
Luckily, I did quite a lot of research when I started taking Zolpidem so I knew that anything beyond one week is starting to create dependency, two weeks will produce mild withdraws, a month will certainly create nasty withdrawals and anything above will be guaranteed hell. Anything more than half a year pretty much guarantees you a nice vacation at a rehab center. And what does your doctor say? – “Don’t worry, this is safe and effective, here’s another box, sleep baby, sleep.”
So first of all, if you’re going to go Zolpidem route then be smart and take it easy with these meds. Do what I did and you’ll be fine – cycle on and off of them periodically in order to avoid dependency and withdrawals or create like long-term problems that people report in forums, worrying they can’t come off of the meds.
Personally, the longest I was on Zolpidem was five weeks. The biggest problem I had with this pharmaceutical is that it didn’t help me sleep for more than three hours so many times I had to take it twice a night – to help fall asleep and then again after I would wake up around 1 or 2am. This will very much screw with your natural rhythm but I figured I needed to buy more time to test supplements and figure out what the hell is wrong with me so I took it anyways.
For me withdrawals meant more insomnia and some strange nervous twitches radiating inside my body, almost jerk like movements that drove me insane. This is normally the case with most of our Western pharma “solutions” – suppress the symptoms and when you stop the meds it all comes back with vengeance. Many times I questioned whether it was worth it and swear to never touch that crap again. But, like I said, survival and desperation is our close friend with insomnia so if things got back I’d be reaching for my nightstand drawer once again.
Over time I’ve discovered a couple of nifty tricks on minimize withdrawals from Zolpidem.
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Step 1: Taper, taper, taper
First and foremost – don’t quit cold turkey (suddenly). Reduce the dose in half and go for three days. Then slash it again and go for another three days, then reduce it by half and so on. The more you wean off the less of withdrawals you’ll have. Some smart psychiatrists suggest to super-nourish your body while you’re coming off of this further helps minimize withdrawal effects and build up your health. Simple as that.
Step 2: Take GABA enhancing supplements
L-theanine is an amino acid. It’s probably one of the most wonderful, most recommended, most well known amino acid for any insomniac. Known for modulating alpha brainwaves (relaxation & creativity)
calming “excitable” neurons, increasing GABA, L-theanine is produced from green tea extract and has a very calming effect, virtually side effect free if you take recommended dosage. It may not put you to sleep or help you sleep (perhaps a little) when you’re going through withdraws but it takes the edge off any neurological glitches and frustration you experience during the first few nights. If you have never tried L-Theanine then you have to: get this type here (Suntheanine) – it is said to be the purest kind.
Gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant, Fanatrex FusePag)
This is not a supplement, but a prescription medication you can get from your doc. I’ve come across it completely by accident. Cat’s accident, that is. A cat showed up at our house door all ripped up from a car hit but still alive. We had her all stitched up by a vet and she was doing fine but she developed seizures from concussion and has to take meds – Gabapentin. It is normally prescribed to suppress seizures. I never paid attention to it until one day it dawned on me that the meds are called GABApenting so I figured I needed to research this more and then I learned that Gabapentin indeed structurally resembles the neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). So I thought: “Hey, I know GABA, I’ve used it it for years!” What if this is some more potent version of it?
I found out that FDA approved the use of Gabapentin for quite a few things like alcohol withdrawal; cocaine withdrawal, hiccups, restless leg syndrome, headaches and so on. Hell, I thought if this helps with hiccups it has to help with insomnia too. Lone and behold, one study says “GBP-treated subjects had an increase in slow-wave sleep compared with baseline.” Forums are full of stories where people say that Gabapentin works very well for them when they need to fall asleep and stay asleep.
The one thing that I did not mention in the video is that later on I discovered that taking Tylenol during detox is of immense help as well! It just kind of takes more edge out of those nasty withdrawal jitters and helps me sleep better.
Use Your Best Judgement
Now, I have to warn you: you better consult with your doctor about this and study the potential side effects. I rarely advise using medications, I’m only sharing this with you because it worked for me. I tried both 100mg and 200mg and the 100mg did the job and made me less drowsy the next day. I took it for four nights, which is the length of time of the nastiest withdrawal symptoms. It was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t have to suffer though it.
Bottom line – do some research and talk to a intelligent doc about Gabapentin. Doctors still have no clue know how gabapentin works (I know, very reassuring) but you have to tell her that you’ve read good stuff and that you want to give it a shot. If you try it, leave a comment below and let me know how it worked for you.