Tapering down on Ambien

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Nikki, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    and haven't had much sleep in about a week. I'm determined to hang in there.

    Anyone else have any success with this. I am adjusting meds as Dr. approves. But, I'm soooo tired and altho sleepy can't sleep.

    Soft Hugs,
    Sharon (Nikki)
  2. Nikki

    Nikki Member

  3. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    I was taking 12.5 extended release Ambien and was cut back (by Dr.) to 6 mg + given Doxepin (generic Silenor). I really didn't want to take the Doxepin . . . just one more drug I didn't need to have to take . . . so, Ive just been taking the 6 mg extended release Ambien.

    Last night I solved my problem temporarily (ha, ha) . . . I took (2) 6mg. I'll go back to just the one again tonight. I really want to get off Ambien completely. But, maybe the sleep I get is a better trade off. However, I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel.

    I've had insomnia ever since I can remember . . . which would mean ever since I was 4 or 5. Once I was given something to help me sleep . . . probably when Ambien was first available . . . I felt I couldn't do w/o it. I now have this "fear" of not getting sleep; probably that's another reason I can't sleep well.

    I've been incorporating a lot of the supplements you've suggested on this board, and I believe I'm starting to see some improvement on my energy levels.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post your very helpful advice.

    Soft Hugs,
    Sharon (Nikki)
  4. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Here are some things that might help with your insomnia. I totally agree that getting off of Ambien and similar drugs is a very good idea.

    Have you had your cortisol levels checked? If they are high at night, it can cause severe insomnia. It's easily remedied by somehting called Seriphos (phosphorylated serine) which helps normalize levels rather quickly. A good test to check cortisol levels is the Adrenal Stress Index Test - it measures cortisol levels at 4 differnet times during the day/evening, and this is important because our levels naturally fluctuate, but this test will show if they are off, and at what time of day. I had this test done several years ago and was given Seriphos for high cortisol at night - it worked great, with no bad side effects. The important thing I learned though was that the Seriphos had to be taken in the morning. It didn't make me sleepy in the morning, although it did calm me down. It took a bit of tweaking to get the right dose, I had to start with 8 capsules a day (in 2 doses) and gradually work down.

    Some people use Relora, which is also supposed to lower cortisol, although I've never tried it.

    Other things to help with sleep:

    calcium and magnesium - very important

    l-theanine - really good for calming the brain (it's an amino acid which helps the brain produce GABA)

    5-htp or l-tryptophan - amino acids which help the brain produce serotonin without the nasty side effects of SSRIs. If you are on prescription anti-depressant, then don't take these as you may develop serotonin syndrome, too much serotonin, which can be dangerous. I've been taking 5-htp for 8 years or so with no bad side effects (100 mg. an hour before bed)

    melatonin - this helps many people too - I take 3 mg. an hour before bed

    Hops and valerian root are calming herbs which on their own aren't enough to make me sleep but in combination with everything above do the job.

    Also, you might want to try Fibrosleep from this board - many people swear by it. There are lots of things besides Ambien for sleep (and safer too!)

    Good luck -

  5. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    Thanks for the information.

    I 've been blindly taking pills my Rheumy Rxs for too many yrs. and I am finally ready to take control over my own life.

    Soft Hugs,
    Sharon (Nikki)
  6. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    Freida - I did take the lower dose of Ambien last night along with a low dose of the doxepin and slept pretty good for 5 or 6 hours.

    I'm still doing P.T. for my back surgery (about 2.5 mos ago). I only go to P.T. 2x week. But, getting up in the a.m. on those 2 days w/o much sleep has been difficult . . . then I get a littler nervous about driving. But, last night's sleep is encouraging.

    I think we all beat ourselves up way too much when we feel like we're failing on some level. Its so good to go to this board and find others who understand completely.

    My husband and I will be traveling about 5 hrs. nx Thurs to Houston to see our grandson and his parents :) ! Just found out we'll be having another grandbaby in early Jan.

    Soft Hugs to All!
    Sharon (Nikki)
    [This Message was Edited on 07/12/2012]
  7. Saoirse3

    Saoirse3 Member

    My new pain doctor is appaled that I have been on Ambien so long (5 years) and wants me to taper off. I've taken 10mg of regular, but since this is my last refill, I decided to taper off for good. Last night I used 5mg, of Ambien and drank this stuff called Alteril. I slept some, not real well and I seem to hurt more, but I am weaning off Lyrica at the same time (75mg when I absolutely need it for neuropathy).

    I am going to order some Fibrosleep and see if that helps. I really want to be natural and drug free if I can. My platelet count is awful and I need surgery, but doc won't do it until my platelets are up. Not exactly sure how to do that, but I figure any synthetic chemicals I can get out of my bad is a good thing.

    Plus, I can feel Jam banging me over the head all the way from Southern Cal! LOL! So here goes, natural stuff for me!

    Soft hugs,
  8. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    I gradually tapered off Lyrica and Cymbalta last yr (w/my dr's knowledge), and it didn't go so well for me. I felt very well after finally getting these drugs out of my system; then, I gradually, very slowly drifted into a very deep depression.

    I did have lots of extenuating curcumstances in my case. 2 yrs prior to this my husband had quad heart by-pass surgery and very bad staff infection (3 surgeries); then my mom died; husband then had ocular melanoma in his left eye (5 surgeries); then husband had major back surgery. My husband is doing well now.

    My psyciatrist informed me that Lyrica was also a mood elevator and had probably kept me from going into a depression (go figure). Then I got off . . . and bam.

    It took me 6 hrs/day, 5 days/wk for 3 mos in an out-patient facility, lots of hard, hard work, lots of family support and professional support to recover. But, I did recover.I had always been a pretty optimistic person for 65 yrs even w/all my health problems (but, I do whine a lot).

    This probably has never happened to anyone else but me . . . but do monitor how you are feeling both physically and mentally.

    Soft Hugs,
    Sharon (Nikki)

    [This Message was Edited on 07/12/2012]
    [This Message was Edited on 07/12/2012]
  9. Saoirse3

    Saoirse3 Member

    And like Leah said, we all have a time in our lives where we weren't really "living", we were just existing from one day to the next. Family wise, this year has been a disaster for me. ALL of my kids have psychological disorders (bi-polar, depression, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse). Two blame me for all of their problems and said they never want to see me again. One is waiting for us to move into our new house so she and our grandchildren can come and live with us. I am battling my own health problems and finally found a wonderful therapist. I am happy to report that I am slowly getting over the guilt and depression I had and learning to live for ME without feeling selfish or self-centered. And to ease my nuturing side, I discovered an absolute love for working with wild bird rehab. Don't ask me why, but I am completely calm when I am working with eagles, owls, hawks and other birds of prey. "They" say animals don't know when you are trying to help them. I know differently.

    I know this is going to be hard work, as weaning off Cymbalta sure wasn't a walk in the park. But I like the feeling that if I HAVE a sad day, a happy day, or whatever life decides to throw at me, the feelings are going to be MY feelings and not a drug induced happy or sad. I broke my Ambien in half last night, and I had that feeling of "Oh, crud, what if I don't sleep?" But I actually DID sleep about 6 hours. Now to train myself that I can sleep on my own and not worry about whether or not I'm going to sleep. Working on a bedtime routine that will work for me! And they say we don't work - HAH!

    Soft hugs,
  10. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    So very sorry to hear about all your problems this yr. Wow, that's a whole lot on your plate. But, glad to hear you're getting over the guilt and depression.

    Wild bird rehab sounds good . . . a lot better than rehab for depression. Working with animals of any kind is good rehab to me. I have the sweetest little dog named Maggie. She's a Cock-A-Shon . . . a cross between a cocker spanial and a Bishon Fresee' (sp). She's great therapy for both me and my husband.

    Take Care and continue on your wellness journey.

    Soft Hugs,
    Sharon (Nikki)
  11. elizabeth65

    elizabeth65 New Member

    So sorry you're struggling! I took Ambien for 10 years and I finally told doctors I was going to listen to my own body's sleep cycle. I have suffered from insomnia since I was a child and having done massive amount of research (and a lot of trial and error...) I found that my circadian rhythm is different than other people's and fighting it was worse than going with it.

    I hate the worst case of rebound insomnia (after quitting Ambien) I could have imagined. I doubt I slept more than a few hours for almost a month and it began interfering with my job so went to a different plan. (I initially decided to stop all drugs after having a broken back at which time I was given narcotic pain meds (hydrocodone), benzodiazpines (ativan) and steroids on top of the Ambien I was already on. There was a six month period of my life when I couldn't tell if I was coming or going nor do I remember much though I had my best performance year (medical sales) ever...have no idea how that happened.

    I flat out had to FIGHT with my docs to quit everything to the point of a) turning a doc into medical board after $30,000 (!!!)worth of MRI's (in one day) and NO answers and her continued push for "try another narcotic"...unbelieveable...try doing your job and reviewing scans even if radiologist can't see what another neurosurgeon finally did...turns out spinal transverse process had been sitting on nerve for two years after breaking off when fractured my L1. Enough on how I got there.....Quit all pain and benzos right after surgery & PT but was still on the Ambien.

    I first began trying to taper off Ambien 3 years ago (sleep walking, sleep eating, loss of short term memory etc..all are normal now...) and I tried dose reductions and would wake 3 hours after going to bed too. I was exhausted from trying to fall asleep the whole next day. I then tried Benadryl (a) it has a hangover effect, b) I didn't want to take it forever) the trick for me was looking at the pharmacokinetics of Benedryl(dipenhydramine) first.

    It has a max plasma concentration 8 hours post dose so trying to wake up 8 hours after taking it is when the most is in your system so I started by taking it at 3-4pm and going to bed between 10-11. If it acts too quickly on you, try taking a couple of hours later. I took one generic tablet to start and did dose reduction every three days going to 3/4 then 1/2 then 1/4 (prob placebo by that time).

    I still couldn't sleep so I then took Valerian Root (I used Natures Bounty w/"calming prop. blend)and made a pitcher of Tazo Tea "Get some Zzzz's" and kept it cold in the refrig (sweetened with honey or agave) and drank a 12 oz glass about an hour before bed. I love how it relaxes and calms me, but it smells horrid...keep the bottle in a ziplock) though my choice would be kava kava if I could find it these days. (NOT an option if you have any kind of liver issues nor would I take Valerian if you consume more than a single alcoholic beverage.)

    Valerian is great however it can have some diuretic properties so watch how much you drink as I had to reduce my consumption of liquids after 7 or I was awake all night anyway and never combine it with any benzodiazapine or other psych med without checking the interactions with your pharmacist. Also, the capsule is large so take it followed by some crackers or something AFTERward because I had some heartburn when I think the capsule got stuck in my throat. Alternatively open the capsule and dump the contents in the middle of a dollop of yoghurt and swallow quickly.

    I started my Ambien taper two weeks before vacation (after the nightmare rebound issues on the first try) then intentionally planned a "staycation" where I knew I could not have to worry about feeling impossibly groggy and dragging for a couple of weeks. If I woke up, I got out of bed, read and did a few other quiet things including a Gaiam gentle yoga video called PM Yoga for relaxation.

    I can now fall asleep with just the yoga and occasionally I will try Melatonin (3mg) or occasionally Valerian if I cannot. One weird thing I found (and you don't say where you live) was that I went to the west coast (I live on the east coast) and then to Hawaii and I fell asleep every night naturally and awoke naturally at dawn with NO meds. I was there working, not vacationing though it usually makes no difference w/ regard to the insomnia except that I usually struggle to sleep in hotels and at that point in my career, I lived in them!

    I also did a lot of research on magnesium and copper. I can tell you that magnesium is one of the few things I will take these days for muscle aches and it is amazing (Natural Calm~ Lemon flavor) and I also take fish oil (purified). I just had a physical with full blood work and everything is absolutely optimal. I am 46 and that is a far cry from where I was two years ago. Along the way, I have tried SleepMD, Restoril and every other sleep prescription and OTC out there.

    I quit my job last year to try another career and I can now work the hours that are "my optimal performance times" and it has made a huge difference. I know that may not be an option, but the bottom line is after talking with my new doc, sometime you have to make some huge changes (75% drop in income!) however it feels amazing to sleep when my body wants to and I wake 7-8 hours later refreshed and ready to roll. I don't know if that is a possibility for you or not, but if it is, go for it.

    I believe some of us are simply "wired" differently. I am a creative person and most of my life I was doing artwork and once was a pastry chef/baker so could work at night. Those were great for me so I have decided to embrace the hours that work for me and though it took almost 18 months to get off the Ambien, every sleepless night and grouchy morning was worth it in the end.

    Wish you luck! I am sure you can do it, but just know the best thing in the world is knowing I don't have any weird side effects or after effects the next day...usually about "who ate all the peanut butter???" with my husband:)...I never even knew I was doing it!

    Coming from someone with long years in the pharma biz, the docs, companies and insurers WANT you on drugs...it is profitable (multiple office visits, multiple refills and multiple pre-existing conditions =higher profits). I was lucky to find an MD that understood my desire to take nothing and let my body do what it is supposed to do.

    I realize there are some things our bodies cannot, so for those on prescribed medications, please discuss with doctors before doing anything. Some things can can cause seizures if stopped to abruptly, some natural supplements have interactions with prescriptions and best to be safe and do it right. It isn't easy, but it sure feels good now!

  12. Nikki

    Nikki Member

    I'm still haning in there . . . trying to find what works best for me . . . but, this time w/supplements and vitamins instead of those cell brain sucking meds. I wish I had done this prior to my back surgery . . . but, it's never too late to start. It wouldn't have changed my having to have back surgery as my L3/L4 and L4/L5 discs had collapsed from very, very bad osteoarthritis and the discs were pushing out onto my nerves.

    Soft Hugs,
    Sharon (Nikk)
  13. elizabeth65

    elizabeth65 New Member

    I hope you are feeling a little better and I had an allergic reaction to grass a few days ago that required prednisone. I'm back to being awake fort he moment but know it is only temporary! I hope the supplements work for you. I am rotten at taking things on time so the only way I remember to take them consistently is if i box them weekly by daily doses! Good luck and I hope you find some rest and are pain free very soon. If you decide to try the yoga, one thing I was told right after my fractured L1 was not to do the twists all the way as it can cause more damage so be careful!

    Wish you luck and will keep fingers crossed for you!