How long sleeping pills will stay in your system depends significantly on the prescription drug used, and how the medication interacts with your body.

The length of time that sleeping pills stay in a person’s system varies greatly depending on the prescription drug. For example:

  • Xanax typically leaves the body within three days
  • Valium can stay in your system for several weeks after your last dose
  • Other sleeping medications, such as Ambien, have a short half-life and are usually eliminated within 16 hours.

The Half-Life of Sleeping Pills

The half-life of sleeping pills varies widely by brand and active ingredient. Some sleep medications have short half-lives, like Ambien (3 hours). Others, such as Valium, have half-lives that range between 20 and 80 hours. The half-life of the drug has a direct impact on how fast the substance leaves the body. The shorter the half-life, the faster your body eliminates the drug.

There are many other factors that also influence how long sleeping pills remain in the system, including genetics, age, liver and kidney function, and overall health.

Factors That Influence How Long Sleeping Pills Stay in Your System

There are a few factors that influence how long a sleeping pill remains in your system. Setting aside the half-lives of different types of sleeping medications, how quickly your body eliminates the drug depends on genetics, age, liver and kidney function, overall health, and other substance use. The elimination process is also affected by how long you have taken the drug and the level of dosage.

Related Topic: Can you overdose on sleeping pills

When quitting sleep medication, it is generally recommended to gradually taper off the drug instead of stopping all at once. This helps alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms many people experience after they stop taking sleeping pills.

How Long Do Sleeping Pills Stay in Your Urine, Hair & Blood?

As a rule of thumb, you can usually multiply the half-life of your medication by a factor of five to determine how long the drug will remain in your system. The half-life measures the time it takes to have half the amount of a drug in your bloodstream. The bloodstream, however, is not the only place where the drug may be.

For example, the drug can show up in a hair sample for around 90 days. Additionally, some drugs may be absorbed by fat tissues and slowly released over time, making them detectable in urine or saliva after they have undergone five half-lives or more. Certain types of sleeping aids will leave your body within hours after the last dose, while others can stay in your urine, hair, and blood for several weeks after quitting.

In general, however, there will usually be no traceable amounts in your system (aside from hair) after a month of recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn about treatment programs that can help you begin the path to a healthier life.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Sleep Disorder (Sedative-Hypnotic) Drug Information.” April 30, 2019. Accessed June 23, 2020.

Proctor, Ashley; et al. “Clinical Pharmacology in Sleep Medicine.” ISRN Pharmacology, November 14, 2012. Accessed June 23, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.