Insomnia is a sleep disorder that affects millions of people. The condition causes a person to have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. People who suffer from insomnia will usually have symptoms like fatigue, low energy levels, mood problems and reduced performance at school or work.

There are two primary types of insomnia: 

  • Acute insomnia: causes someone to have problems falling asleep for a brief period of time. It’s usually situational. 
  • Chronic insomnia: occurs at least three nights a week and lasts for a minimum of three months. There can be many reasons why a person suffers from chronic insomnia, including shift work, their environment and clinical disorders. People who suffer from chronic insomnia typically require treatment so that they can regain good sleep patterns. The condition is often associated with other medical or psychiatric issues.

One medication sometimes used to treat insomnia is called trazodone. Some physicians prefer it because it is a generic drug and is generally less expensive than many other brand names of sleep aids. Additionally, it is not considered to be very addictive or habit-forming in most people, and it’s not a controlled substance.

Using Trazodone for Sleep

Trazodone is technically an antidepressant, but it is also frequently used to help people with sleep disorders. Trazodone helps with insomnia because it has a sedative effect, and drowsiness is actually one of the most common side effects of using it. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how it works, but they believe trazodone helps with sleep by acting on certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

When trazodone is being used to treat another condition such as depression, the drowsiness side effect can be problematic. However, this side effect is what led to trazodone’s use as a treatment for insomnia. It’s important to note there are other potential negative side effects, including:

  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cardiac arrhythmia

Trazodone is even more helpful when someone has insomnia because of depression, but it can still be used as a sleep aid in people without depression.

Trazodone Dose for Sleep

People who use trazodone for insomnia are recommended to take their dose at bedtime. Doses include 50, 100, 150 and 300 mg tablets, and the starting dose for sleep is anywhere from 25 to 50 mg. The dose can be increased as needed. The maintenance dose is usually anywhere from 50 to 100 mg a day, taken either at bedtime or in divided doses.

Trazodone usually helps people with insomnia immediately. When it’s used for depression, however, it can take several weeks for the full effects to be apparent.

The max trazodone dose for sleep can vary depending on the individual, but the general maximum daily dose is 300 mg. When it comes to trazodone and insomnia, however, lower doses tend to be more effective. Higher doses may be ineffective or cause more insomnia.

Trazodone vs. Ambien

Ambien is the brand name of a popular prescription sleep aid, and people frequently compare the effectiveness of trazodone and Ambien. For the most part, many people prefer trazodone over Ambien because Ambien tends to have more side effects, including sleepwalking.

In some people, Ambien can also cause or worsen certain psychiatric conditions, such as depression. However, trazodone can actually treat depression while simultaneously treating insomnia. Ambien is also believed to be more habit-forming than trazodone, and it’s associated with a higher risk of abuse. 

Summing Up — Trazodone For Sleep

While trazodone is approved by the FDA as an antidepressant, it has many off-label uses as well, and one of the most common is for the treatment of insomnia. Trazodone tends to be an effective form of insomnia treatment for many people, and it has a lower risk profile than many other sleep aids. Trazodone for insomnia is usually prescribed at a lower dose than what is prescribed for depression, and it can also work well to treat a combination of insomnia and depression in some patients.

  • Sources

    Shin, Justin; Saadabadi, Abdolreza. “Trazodone.” StatPearls, February 28, 2020. Accessed May 31, 2020.

    RxList. “Trazodone.” (n.d.). Accessed May 31, 2020.

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