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Trazodone for Sleep: Everything You Need To Know

By Jen Venegas
Trazodone is a medication approved to treat depression, but it’s also often prescribed as a sleep aid. Read on to learn about the risks and benefits of taking trazodone for sleep.

Trazodone has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating depression, but doctors often prescribe it for insomnia. The drug has sedative effects, which is why it is sometimes used for sleep problems. Read on to learn more about trazodone and its use as a sleep aid.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a prescription medication that has been used to treat depression disorders and sleep disorders. At low doses, trazodone helps you go to sleep and stay asleep at night without causing you to build up a tolerance or feel sleepy during the day. This is mostly because of the drug’s short half-life of 3-6 hours, according to a 2017 systematic review published by Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience.

The 2017 review also notes that, while trazodone is FDA-approved to treat depression, the drug is more widely used as a sleep aid than as a treatment for depression. Additionally, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation notes that there are a few key factors that make trazadone distinct from other kinds of sleeping pills:

  • Trazodone is not classified by the FDA as a controlled substance, unlike medications such as Ambien and Lunesta. This means that trazodone is not considered to have a potential for misuse and abuse.
  • Due to the fact that trazodone is not classified as a controlled substance, doctors do not have strict limits on how many pills they're able to prescribe. 
  • When trazodone is used as prescribed, it is not an addictive substance. 

Using Trazodone for Sleep

Because trazodone is a prescription medication used for insomnia at higher rates than its FDA-approved use for depression, it’s important to know the benefits of its usage. One of the benefits is trazodone’s affordability compared to other sleep aids.

“Trazodone for sleep has the advantage of being an effective treatment for insomnia. Trazodone is helpful at low doses for primary and secondary insomnia. Additionally, it is less expensive than some newer insomnia medications due to its generic availability,” Liz Lombardo, PhD., tells WebMD Connect to Care, “Trazodone for sleep has the advantage of being an effective treatment for insomnia. Trazodone is helpful at low doses for primary and secondary insomnia. Additionally, it is less expensive than some newer insomnia medications due to its generic availability.”

At low doses, trazodone as a sleep aid is often very effective for insomnia. Speaking with your doctor about your options as well as trazodone’s potential side effects will help you determine if it’s the right solution for you. Medline Plus notes that trazodone side effects could include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Muscle pain
  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in the arms, legs, hands, or feet

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