Zaleplon

Brand names of zaleplon

  • Sonata
  • Starnoc

Zaleplon is a central nervous system depressant. Such medicines reduce alertness, cause drowsiness, and induce sleep. Therefore, zaleplon is used in the treatment of insomnia, that is, sleeplessness or trouble in falling asleep. It is a prescription medicine, which means you need your doctor's prescription to get it.

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Sleep inducing medicines, when used regularly, become less effective over time. Moreover, they may form habits, making your body dependent on them. Therefore, they should be used for one or two days, only when acutely required. Their use should not be extended beyond one or two weeks unless advised by the doctor.

Zaleplon is known to cause severe allergic reactions. If you are on zaleplon and notice any symptoms of allergy, like difficult breathing, hives, swelling in face, lips, throat or tongue, stop taking it and call your doctor immediately.

Zaleplon, as a side effect, may impair thinking process and blunt the ability to react. There may still be effects of the medicine on the morning after it was taken, in the form of drowsiness, dull reactions and inability to think properly.

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Any medicine that induces sleep should not be taken during normal waking hours; take zaleplon only if you have nothing to do for at least the next four hours. However, if under any circumstances you have taken it during waking hours, or are still under its effects the next morning, then be careful while engaging in activities that require alertness, like driving, piloting a plane or operating machinery. Some people on zaleplon have reported forgetting everything that they did after taking it, like driving or talking on phone. If you too experience any such thing, stop taking it immediately and discuss other treatments for your sleep disorders with your doctor. Also, don't drink while you are on zaleplon. Alcohol can worsen some of its side effects, like drowsiness.

Zaleplon should strictly be used only by those who have been prescribed it. If you have been prescribed zaleplon, don't share it with anybody else to prevent drug abuse. Keep it where nobody else can get it.

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Suddenly stopping zaleplon after having taken it regularly for some days may cause withdrawal symptoms. If you have been taking it regularly, don't stop all of a sudden. Instead, talk to your doctor; he will gradually reduce its dose before stopping it completely.

Prior to taking zaleplon let your health care provider know

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Usage

Zaleplon is used as a short term treatment for people who have difficulty in falling asleep. It has a hypnotic effect and acts on certain brain centres that cause relaxation and accelerate the process of falling asleep. However, if you are suffering from other sleep disorders, like inability to sleep through the night, zaleplon may not be the right medication for you.

How to use zaleplon

Zaleplon is taken orally, preferable with a full glass of water. It is best to take it on an empty stomach, that is, at least two hours after meals, and only when the patient is ready to go to bed.

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Use the medicine exactly as directed, following every instruction on your prescription label. Don't increase the dose and don't take for longer than advised. On the other hand, don't stop taking it on your own; it may lead to acute withdrawal symptoms. When required, your doctor will gradually reduce its dose and gently stop.

How zaleplon works

The main mechanism of zaleplon's action is to depress the activity of the central nervous system that consists of the brain and the spinal cord. This leads to mild sedation and drowsiness. Since zaleplon is metabolized more quickly than many other similar drugs, its side effects, like daytime drowsiness, are lesser.

Side effects

Serious
  • abnormal thoughts or behaviour
  • unsteadiness
  • unusual nervousness
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • hallucinations
  • light-headedness
  • agitation
  • confusion or disorientation
Common
  • general pain or discomfort
  • headache
  • daytime drowsiness
  • memory problems
  • dizziness
Less common

Possible interactions

Other medicaments
Zaleplon, taken in combination with these medicines, can increase their effects:
  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Any narcotics or CNS depressants
Following medicines may interact with zaleplon in the given manner:
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet and others) can increase the effectiveness of zaleplon
  • Medicines inhibiting aldehyde oxidase through primary removal mechanism, as well as CYP 3A4, will hamper removal of zaleplon from the system and may cause zaleplon toxicity
  • Ritonavir (Norvir), and other protease inhibitors, may also cause similar toxicity
  • Rifampin (Rifater and others) can decrease the benefits of zaleplon
Foods
Food delays absorption of zaleplon; so it should be taken on an empty stomach.
Herbal medicines or minerals
Valerian and kava kava may accentuate CNS depression and shouldn't be taken with zaleplon. Ephedra, mate, Siberian ginseng and kola nut cause alertness and may reduce the effect of zaleplon. St. John's wort can also reduce the effectiveness of zaleplon.
Beverages
Beverages containing caffeine, like coffee, colas, chocolate drinks and tea, can reduce the effect of zaleplon.
Alcohol
As indicated above, alcohol can accentuate side effects of zaleplon.
Tobacco smoking
Like caffeine, nicotine found in tobacco is also a stimulant, and can reduce the effectiveness of zaleplon.
Marijuana smoking
Marijuana can lead to additive drowsiness with zaleplon, should be avoided.

Discontinuation

As mentioned above, zaleplon should not be abruptly discontinued, if it has been used for more than a week. When required, your doctor will draw a suitable withdrawal schedule, gradually decreasing the dose.

Storage instructions

Store away from light, heat and moisture. Keep out of reach of not just children but also the adults with a history of drug abuse.

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