Changing Ambien to Melotonin...slowly

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Retired Mom
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   Posted 2/11/2012 6:49 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi All,
 
I recently decided that I wanted to reduce the number of meds that I have to use every day.  After seeing that Ambien is one of the drugs they actually test for in the drug screens many of us take, I decided Ambien is the one I want to reduce and hopefully discontinue.  I spoke with my Psych (who prescribes it to me...he was thrilled that I wanted to do it) and then got permission from my PM (the are really tough on getting clearance for any med changes). 
 
I have been using 20 mg of the Ambien nightly for a very long time.  On a few occasions, I have done some pretty stupid things like order from ebay or having strange conversations when I could not sleep.
 
Anyway, I don't want to come off of all my meds...it's nothing like that, but I just wanted a little more control over what I 'have' to take.  So, the the melotonin is my transitional drug of choice.  I realize it is another medication but I don't think the effects are quite the same.
 
I thought I'd give you all the update to let you know where things are going and how it is working for me.  I bought several strengths of the Melotonin and started with the lowest (3mg) nightly, along with one of the normal two ambien.  For the first night or two, I noticed some slight withdrawal feelings and anxiety both day and night, but the sleep was somewhat different...I guess you could say a little more restful.  It wasn't much of a change, but it is starting to change more now.  After a few more days I'm feeling much more rested.  My husband says I'm much more grouchy at night though and that I'm acting like a "witch" before I go to sleep.
 
Next week, I'm going to break the ambien in half and try to take only 1/2 of one ambien instead of one.  I'll probably up the melotonin to two during the transition and then take it to the lowest dose possible once I am done transitioning.  After a few days to a week, I'd like to take a night off from the ambien and see how I do.  If I need more time, I'll certainly take it.  I have enough of this stuff in my "med safe" that I should never have to refill again....if this works.  I could even take it "as needed" without refill for over a year.  That's because my Dr had me filling it at the 20 mg, but taking 15 for almost a year.  We upped it when I started having some issues and too much pain to sleep.  Now, I think that it is not helping and is perhaps causing a less restful sleep cycle than before. 
 
It's sort of an experiment (approved by my Dr's) and a way to see if more restful sleep can help break the pain cycle or at lest reduce the pain in some way.  So far, I'm starting to notice that my muscles don't feel like I've been keeping them clinched up all night...so I guess that is progress.
 
I'll keep you posted on how it goes.  I'd love to leave behind a mind altering drug if at all possible.  I believe in meds (as I'm sure you all know), but I'd love to leave ambien if I can.
 
Wish me luck!  If you want me to keep the posts on this up periodically, please let me know.  If not, then I won't take up the space on the board. cool

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16796
   Posted 2/11/2012 11:17 AM (GMT -6)   
I sure hope this works out for you. I don't do sleeping pills, just cannot tolerate those things. When I attempted them I really did some stupid things too, lol.

I have a friend that takes Melatonin and has for years and she swears by it. I have seriously considered buying some and trying it out because of my horrible sleeping habits.

There is nothing wrong in eliminating a medication if it is something you can live without, been there and done that. I sure hope this works for you, keep us posted.
Moderator-Chronic Pain Forum

grandmaroses
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Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 1355
   Posted 2/11/2012 12:03 PM (GMT -6)   
RetiredMom and straydog you both have mentioned doing strange things when taking sleeping pills and I need to ask is this a side effect of the med? I am asking because I take zopiclone and I have noticed some strange behavior on my part. Some of the things I do are a bit embarrassing I barely remember and sometimes have no memory of what I have done. I'm getting a little worried here.
Take care
Rose



Insulin Dependant Diabetic, Fibromyalgia, Gerd, IBS, Sleep Apnea, COPD, Spondylolistesis, Diabetic Neuropathy, Fatty Liver, High Cholesterol

mscrowbar
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Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 877
   Posted 2/11/2012 1:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Most people that have a reaction to a sleep med have had sleep walking issues as a child. Most not all. My daughter used to sleep walk and say and do funny things as a child. The first time she took a sleep med she fell down the steps, destroyed her computer and made herself up like a street **********. I can only say that I am glad we were there to protect her from further harm and from waking up her three small boys while she was having "fun". And, of course, she no longer takes them.

I take Ambien myself and I do occassionally get up to eat or will say things that I do not remember. But I have found a way to fix this. One is to keep a small snack on your nightstand. It will be there when you get the urge and keep you from getting up. Two, I turn everything off, then take my pill and play a game on my phone. This way when I first doze off I will not be awakened or prompted to wake back up by the lights or the tv. I will just put the phone on the nightstand and roll over and sleep. Three, I try to take the pill the same time each night, that way there is a habit that my body and hopefully my brain will get used to so that I can also wean myself from these meds. So far, no luck. I am still wide awake at pill time. But, there is always hope that things will change.

I hope this helps someone, anyone. I know we all hate to take meds but lack of sleep will cause more harm than the med itself (in most cases anyway).


take care,
Denita

forum moderator/RA

Rheumatoid arthritis, Fibromyalgia, meniscus tears in left knee, Cancer survivor

di43
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 108
   Posted 2/11/2012 1:47 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Retired Mom,

I hope that you can make the transition easily to Melotonin. I have had to take valium and other things to sleep but I`ve never tried sleeping pills. Then my sister gave me some melotonin for sleeping on the plane and I swear by it now. I find I sleep a lot better and feel more rested than I do when I take other things and I wake up in the morning not feeling groggy. I find funnily enough that oxycontin wakes me up. I can sleep on it, sometimes it has a sleepy effect but sometimes I take awhile to sleep on it. Anyway I hope that you find Melotonin helps.

Take care,
Di :)

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16796
   Posted 2/11/2012 3:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Rose yes, some people can and do have strange reactions to sleeping pills. This is one reason I do not take them, I tried and it just did not work out for me. We switched me around and it was the same thing. So, I leave them alone, lol. My neighbor took Ambien and it really did cause her to do some strange things and of course she remembered nothing afterwards. I stayed over night at her house a little when she lost her husband unexpectedly, and when I clued her in on some of the things she said and did she was floored. I have to be in control of things and do not like the out of control feeling at all, lol.

Take care.
Moderator-Chronic Pain Forum

grandmaroses
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Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 1355
   Posted 2/11/2012 3:34 PM (GMT -6)   
OMG thank you for your responses. I will try Denita's ideas first because I really do not want to mess with my meds before surgery. Its no wonder my blood glucose levels are so high in the morning. duh...I have gone outside a few times but have realized how cold it is and come back inside and of course then make myself a hot chocolate to warm up. Its like my drugged brain doesn't care I'm a diabetic.
Take care
Rose



Insulin Dependant Diabetic, Fibromyalgia, Gerd, IBS, Sleep Apnea, COPD, Spondylolistesis, Diabetic Neuropathy, Fatty Liver, High Cholesterol

Retired Mom
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Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 2/11/2012 9:24 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi guys,
 
I justed checked back in and saw the info from everyone on the thread.  How interesting that it does so many things to so many people.  My best friend's husband took ambien on a few occasions and he went nuts....calling her horrible names and accusing her of very bad things.  He couldn't be calmed during the events and then didn't remember things later at all.
 
For me, I find that I want to buy things...like ebay, something stupid on another site, a computer one time, and then I called the Gem Shopping Network one night about an insanely priced ring.  I don't even remember what it looked like.  I didn't remember the next morning what exactly I called about but I know I called.  I've also called other people and talked really stupid to them.  Thank God they were aware of the ambien beforehand.
 
I also get up and eat at night a lot.  Sometimes I'm not even sure I get up and then I find the diet coke can and the wrappers from the food.  I really wonder if that is why I don't control my weight as well as I would like to.
 
Thanks for the encouragement guys.  I just took another dose with the one ambien and the one melotonin.  I have two more days of that and then I go down to the 1/2 ambien.  I hope it works!  Wouldn't it be great to get off of one mind altering med and just use what is absolutely necessary?
 
I'm sleepy now and it has only been 10 minutes since I took it. 
 
I'll check in on you guys tomorrow!
 
Thanks everyone!

di43
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 108
   Posted 2/12/2012 9:45 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Retired Mom

That`s the other thing about Melotonin is it works almost instantly or if not very quickly so hopefully it helps you. Hope you have a good rest!

Di :)

joe1619
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 293
   Posted 2/12/2012 10:34 AM (GMT -6)   
i can take 50 mg ambien and it doesnt work. if melatonin works do it, i take valium and seroquel..very high tolerance i became addicted 4 years ago to sleeping pills used more and more to get the same effect. learn from my mistake. drs prescribe but they dont really understand the drugs and its not like the drug knows u. u take it and it does what it does sleeping meds caused me severe gerd and i had to have surgery then i could not defacate so used suppositories which caused a urology problem as i now pee 20 times a day. those pills destroyed all quality of life i slept 6 hours on fri and was up all night last night. my throat is severely burned from acid so every day is pain city and i cannot eat normally and now my bladder is goofed. if i could do it over again i would have never sought help for sleep.

Retired Mom
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Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 2/12/2012 10:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Last night was the same....a quick drop off to sleep and then a relatively decent rest.  I know I'm not completely off of the ambien and the dose I am taking now is considered the "top" dose for a regular patient, but I was having to take double that...so I'm hoping for continued success :)
 
I have two PM doses of the 10 mg ambien and 3mg melotonin...then it's on to 5mg ambien and hopefully 3 mg melotonin.  After a week of that, I'm going to try to get off of the ambien completely (I hope).  I'll probably do an update next week on a new thread when I drop down again and then a new one when it gets to the no ambien. 
 
I hope my experience will be something somebody else can (with permission from their dr's....like I got) use to help them get off of a med that causes so many strange reactions.
 
Please don't get me wrong...Ambien was a Godsend when I needed it so badly because sleep was IMPOSSIBLE at that time.  Things are different now and I'd like to upgrade my life to reflect my changes. 
 
I did notice that my dreams were very vivid last night and a little too real.  When I awoke, I had to clear my head to remember that I was in the present and not the past I was dreaming about

Snowbunny21
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Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 2/12/2012 11:51 AM (GMT -6)   
Joe1619....WOW...It's amazing that you didn't die with that amount of Ambien mixed with other meds. Thankfully you are still here...I appreciate you admitting that you were addicted to them as no Dr. would prescribe 50mg to anyone....

To Retired...I'm glad you are doing what you feel is best for you...

I've been on 10mg Ambien for a few years and besides having the eating issue in the beginning...I thankfully have not had any other issue that outweighs the positives for me...

It has been a God send and helps me get decent sleep which has helped my fatigue immensely as well as pain during the day. It all but made my Fibromyalgia symptoms disappear as sleep is one of the main causes they are discovering now.

So this is a good post to show that it can work for some and not for others and if you can go natural and get the sleep you need, that is wonderful. As mentioned, we all have to make the best choices for ourselves and look at the pros and cons of our medicines as they all have side effects..

The only part I was confused about on your first post is you say it's a drug that is tested for when we do our random drug tests..I guess I don't see the issue with that particular part as I assume you are prescribed Ambien as would be anyone else by their Dr. and when they ask what meds we have taken in the last 24 hours this would be listed so it's not like that would be a surprise or cause any issue on a drug test...So I apologize for not understanding what you were meaning by that part...

Are you working with your Dr. on the transition or doing this on your own?

I am hoping and praying that it goes well and keep us posted...
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006
 
 

Retired Mom
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Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 2/12/2012 2:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Snowbunny,
 
First....yes, I am working with my psych (and with the approval of my PM) to determine if this is the best course of action for me. 
 
The reason I mentioned the test is because I never knew they tested for it until I saw it on the UDS list when I as at the PM a little while ago.  I was surprised becaue it has to be relatively potent for them to list it individually on this particular test and.  Of course there was not problem with my test.  Everything was in order....I was just interested in the fact that they are closely monitoring a sleep med now when I never had that on the little stick tests in the office before.  It was noting to worry about.
 
Perhaps Joe could elaborate on the reason for this better than I because, although I was taking 20 mg, it was the prescribed dose and I never exceeded it.  It didn't make me feel high or anything like that, but I was honestly scared of mixing so many meds (because I take quite a few). 
 
When my psych and I talked about making the change, I suggested it because I want to get a little more control over all these prescription meds.  I need them (hopefully not the ambien anymore) and I don't intend to stop taking the others, but dropping even one from the mix could only be a positive change.  He was very happy because he feels that long term use like I have been taking them is not good for you and not good for your sleep habits.  Of course, if it is the only way you can rest...well that is a different story.  It was for me for a while, but I like to think I'm making progress.  The pain cannot be changed, but I can work on other things :)
 
Good luck everybody!
 

Snowbunny21
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Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 2/12/2012 3:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for explaining that more....Sorry for my confusion....The urine test that my PM Dr. does is sent to a lab that does the Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) which is extremely sensitive and will show any medicine that is taken and the exact amount..So if a person even took half or an extra pill it would show up...it's fascinating to me the technology can be so precise..

Again...NOT that you or others had trouble with this at all...just speaking in general terms...

I think it's always a good thing for all of us to evaluate our care and make necessary changes when we can...

One of the natural things that I learned was making sure my bedroom was not too hot...so now I keep the house at 68..this helps for better sleep...as well as listening to my book on Audible with all lights out before bed instead of falling asleep with the TV or computer being the last thing...Also making sure I don't eat anything later than 7pm...

This is a good post to share our "healthy/natural" sleep tips:)

I really do hope it works for you...Again..thanks for sharing your story:)
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006
 
 

Blessedx8
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Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 2/12/2012 4:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Retiredmom,

Thanks for sharing your experiences... and please continue to post and let us know how you are doing. You know I have sleep issues, too, so I'm really glad to hear this is working for you. I have two doctor appointments this week and I'm going to explore the melatonin thing. I have to do something... and I keep hearing good things about this....

Re: Ambien... it is a hypnotic drug (along w/ Lunesta, Sonata, etc). This is a common reaction to it (doing weird things and not remembering). Not every has this reaction....but it does happen. I had the same reaction on Ambien - I'd eat all through the night (lovely, I know) and not remember a thing; have conversations w/ various people w/ no memory; etc. We lived in Colorado at the time and it was snowing like crazy... I woke up, got the car keys and was heading out for a drive. That was the last time I've ever touched that type of sleeping medication - thank goodness my husband was around and stopped me.

Oh, and I also think the "reaction" to the hypnotic component can be exacerbated by narcotics... from talks w/ my doctors and reading I've done.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear things are going well as you switch over from the Ambien. I agree w/ you wholeheartedly that there are things we can't change, but there are things we can work on. So - good for you - and look forward to hearing more about your progress. Take care, and thanks for sharing.

tmjpain
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Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2024
   Posted 2/12/2012 7:38 PM (GMT -6)   
It's great to hear that melatonin is helping some of you. I was on it for quite a while, 30mg, and it had no effect on me.

Tina it would be great if this helped you.

Suzane

Retired Mom
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Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 2/13/2012 7:05 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Suzane,

It's so nice to have you posting again. I'm sorry that the melotonin thing didn't help you. I wonder if that has something to do with those horrible headaches. Perhaps there is something happening there that changes the "brain interaction" with the meds. I have no real idea, but it is interesting. I am only on 3 mg right now and can't even imagine 30 mg!

I wish there were some solution for you because this is helping me so much. I have one night of the whole ambien left and I want to go ahead and break it, but I want to do it just right (if there is such a thing).

Tina, I'm so glad you posted too. I know sleep problems have plagued you forever and that you weren't able to take the other meds. Please do ask the Dr's this week and let us know what they tell you. I think many people are interested in how this is working...at least I hope I'm not just taking up space. If I can help even one by posting my progress (or problems) then I've done what I can :)

I'll start another thread as soon as I make the change to the lower dose so that this one doesn't get too long. That way everybody doesn't have to read so much if they just want specifics.

Hope everyone is having a low pain morning ..... unfortunately that is NOT the case with me, but I think it is my fault since I didn't take my last Soma last night. I missed my "regular" dose time and it got too late, so I missed it. I KNOW that I got off schedule now though! I guess it's time to change my reminder alarm on my phone so I don't miss anything else. This pain is insane again and I had so hoped to be able to do a few things today.

Have a great day everyone!
Failed TLIF L5-S1, Miltiple Bulges/Herniations, Scoliosis, Pituatary Disorder, Fibro, Failed Bladder Surgery, Failed Nissen, GERD, OCPD, GAD, MDD, CFS, TMJ, Migraines, HBP, Idiopatic Reactive Hypoglycemia w/Diabetic reaction to HGH, Bi-lateral CTS (now trigger finger), Edema, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy, Plantar Fascitis, Tibular Tendonitis, Adult Onset Flat Feet, & Vision Issues

di43
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 108
   Posted 2/16/2012 2:39 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Retired Mom

I`m glad the melotonin is still working for you, that`s great! But so sorry to hear about your pain today, you poor thing. I hope it comes right (as right as possible that is with chronic pain) asap. Thinking of you, Di xx

Medicalkid2
Regular Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 147
   Posted 2/17/2012 9:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Wow this sounds awesome! I took ambien and I did some stupid things like you describe (woke up in my basement with an empty loaf of bread :O, strange conversations, etc.), I think every time I awoke on ambien EVERYTHING seamed like a good idea but now I can handle it a bit more...I think its like a really dangerous and slightly more coordinated version of being intoxicated on alcohol. My advice for anyone still taking it; Take the pill and hit the pillow within 5 minutes or less! I just started taking ambien again to assist with sleep and to get of klonopin soon...I don't like the idea of becoming a benzo zomby even if my dose is low so I am slowly over the course of a few months lowering the klonopin and using the ambien with my night dose of oxycodone to sleep and hopefully I won't have to take anything within a few months.

Post Edited (Medicalkid2) : 2/17/2012 7:33:02 AM (GMT-7)


joe1619
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 293
   Posted 2/19/2012 1:41 PM (GMT -6)   
use little. personally nothing works for me. i come to realize that my body will get the rest it needs without theses drugs. i can only say that ambien works on the brain like benzos. putting most people at risk for tolerance and withdrawal. if a small dose works for you long term i say do it. once there is a need to increase the dose stop it and go med free. i got caught and got desperate taking pills for sleep almost killed me twice due to them wearing off. benzos were given to me and it was my biggest mistake.
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