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Amitriptyline for sleep: How long does Amitriptyline take to work for sleep?

Have you been prescribed Amitriptyline for sleep? 

Maybe you know someone who uses this medication to treat their insomnia, and you’ve been thinking about pursuing the same strategy with your doctor. 

If so, you’re in the right place. 

Amitriptyline and sleep often go hand-in-hand today. Many medical professionals are exploring Amitriptyline as a non-habit-forming solution to sleep disturbances and sleep deprivation. 

According to the CDC, around 35% of American adults don’t get enough sleep. Unfortunately, old-fashioned “sleeping pills” often have side-effects like dependency, fatigue, and even mood problems.

Amitriptyline or Elavil for sleep, could be the answer. 

How effective is Amitriptyline for sleep?

The first thing you should know is Amitriptyline isn’t actually a medication designed to treat insomnia. Rather, this is a form of “tricyclic antidepressant”, similar to Trimipramine

A tricyclic antidepressant, or TCA, is a medication which works by increasing brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), like norepinephrine and serotonin. 

While Amitriptyline can certainly help to improve your mood, it’s also powerful at addressing other problems, like chronic pain, and sleep issues. 

Amitriptyline is a prescription drug, often given at a lower dose for the treatment of pain, insomnia, and migraines. Though this medication has been around for quite some time now, it’s still one of the more popular medications for insomnia. 

One of the biggest benefits of the drug is its long half-life, which lasts between 12 and 24 hours. This means Amitriptyline can even treat sleep maintenance insomnia, where you wake up extremely early and can’t get back to sleep. 

Of course, Amitriptyline has its downsides too. One of the most common side effects of this medication, when taken for depression, is sleep issues. 

This means doctors have to be particularly careful about choosing the right dosage and avoiding Elavil side effects

How long does Amitriptyline take to work for sleep?

When exploring Amitriptyline as a solution for insomnia, one of the biggest questions patients ask, is “how long does it take for amitriptyline to put you to sleep?”

As with most sleep medications, it’s difficult to say exactly how quickly you’ll see the benefits of this medication. 

Amitriptyline, like other antidepressant medications can take a while to settle into your system. Most doctors recommend giving it at least four to six weeks to see if the substance has a positive impact on your mood. 

If you’re taking Amitriptyline for sleep, you might notice effects a lot faster, within 1 or 2 weeks. Exactly how long it takes for you to fall asleep after taking a pill will vary. You can take this medication in the evening, an hour or two before you go to bed. 

Similar to other antidepressants used for insomnia, there’s some confusion around how amitriptyline puts you to sleep. Experts aren’t sure why the medication is so effective. Some people believe it has something to do with the drug’s ability to prevent reabsorption of substances like serotonin.

Having more serotonin available, helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Amitriptyline is also a drug good at blocking histamine, which can result in drowsiness. 

How many Amitriptyline should I take to sleep?

The right Amitriptyline dosage for sleep, will depend on you individually. 

Most doctors will suggest low-dose Amitriptyline for insomnia, usually between 10mg and 20 mg, to reduce the risk of Amitriptyline side effects. In low doses, the medication is widely regarded safe and effective, with a low risk level for patients. 

Unlike hypnotics, patients can use Amitriptyline for extended periods of time without becoming “addicted” or dependent on the pill for a good night’s sleep. Doses for adults can range all the way up to 100mg. The dosage depending on exactly what your doctor is trying to treat. 

In some cases, your doctor will prescribe doses of 10mg tablets, and allow you to take between 1 and 4 a day. Gradually increasing your dose over time to see the impact on your sleep pattern. 

If you decide to stop taking Amitriptyline, your doctor will also usually advise tapering off the drug, rather than stopping it completely. Withdrawal symptoms can occur after taking Amitriptyline for a certain period of time, including insomnia, headaches, and mood swings.

Before you take Amitriptyline, make sure your doctor is aware of any pre-existing conditions you might have, as well as any other drugs you might be taking. Amitriptyline may not be suitable for people with: 

  • Diabetes: The medication can affect blood sugar, which may require regular checking. 
  • Glaucoma: Amitriptyline may increase the pressure in your eyes
  • Heart disease, kidney, or liver problems
  • Epilepsy: Amitriptyline may heighten your risk of seizures
  • Schizophrenia, mania, or bipolar disorder

Are there any Amitriptyline side effects?

If you’re taking Elavil for sleep (Amitriptyline) or any other medication, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects. Amitriptyline and sleep are often a good combination, because the medicine is a less expensive drug, and it has less of a risk of forming habits or addictions. 

Amitriptyline can also be a useful tool for people dealing with chronic pain, anxiety and depression. If you have anxiety, depression, or pain issues, your doctor may prescribe Amitriptyline for these conditions first. 

A good side effect of the medicine could be, once you don’t have as much pain to anxiety to worry about, you start to sleep better too. 

On the other hand, Amitriptyline side effects do exist, and must be treated with caution. Common side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble with urination
  • Weight gain
  • Sudden changes in blood pressure
  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Shaky hands
  • Blurry vision

In rare cases, you may experience more serious side effects like a rapid or irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, or chest pain. If you notice these signs, you could be at risk of having a heart attack and must contact a doctor immediately.

Will Amitriptyline cure insomnia?

Amitriptyline won’t necessarily cure your insomnia, but it could make it easier to fall asleep, and stay asleep when you need to. Similar to other antidepressant treatments for insomnia, you may find your sleep problems come back, when you decide to stop taking the medication. This is why it’s so important to tackle the underlying issues, which may be causing your insomnia. 

Often, the best treatment options will involve having an in-depth discussion with a sleep specialist about your insomnia issues. You may also be asked to attend a sleep study, where professionals can examine your sleep pattern, and get a better idea of what’s preventing you from sleeping. 

As a temporary solution for sleep problems, however, Amitriptyline can help you to avoid some of the severe side effects of sleep deprivation. It is important to speak to your doctor about your suitability for this medication, however. 

Some other drugs can interact negatively with Amitriptyline. For instance, MAOI’s can cause seizures when used with Amitriptyline. Opioid medications like codeine can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome. 

Your doctor will also advise you to be cautious when taking this medication initially. Until you adapt to the substance, you may need to be extra careful when operating machines or doing activities requiring focus. 

Should you take Amitriptyline for sleep?

Deciding whether to take a certain medication for sleep can be a difficult process. Most people don’t want to feel like they’re reliant on a drug to get a good night’s rest. 

However, if you find other strategies, like improving your sleep hygiene, don’t work, you may need to consider Amitriptyline as an option. Doctors will only recommend Amitriptyline if they believe the benefits of the drug outweigh the negatives, and potential side effects. 

Compared to other treatments for insomnia, Amitriptyline is widely regarded to be a safe and effective drug, with minimal risk of negative side effects when used with caution. However, not everyone will be well-suited to this treatment. 

If you think Amitriptyline isn’t right for you, don’t be afraid to discuss other options with your doctor. 

Siestio. Sleep Matters.

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You must not rely on the information provided on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professionals. For more information read our full disclaimer here.

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