Does Gabapentin Aid in Sleep and Anxiety?

Nervous young woman cant sleep, taking sleeping pill
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Key Takeaways

  • Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant, is prescribed for epilepsy and seizures, yet its drowsiness side effect aids insomnia and anxiety treatment. It induces sleep by reducing brain neuronal activity and nerve transmission.
  • It takes about a week for gabapentin to produce its effects. Typically, insomnia is treated with a 300mg dose, taken up to three times daily. Following healthcare advice and avoiding other sedatives is crucial.
  • In comparison to trazodone, gabapentin proves more effective for sleep. It helps with anxiety by reducing nerve transmission, with effects visible in about two weeks.

Gabapentin is from the class of drugs termed Anticonvulsants, which are used for different conditions like Epilepsy and seizures. One of its side effects, “causing drowsiness and sedation,” benefit healthcare providers in treating conditions like insomnia and anxiety. It greatly aids in sleep to a great extent by decreasing the neuronal activity and transmission of the nerves in the brain.

It generally takes 7 to 8 days to start showing its effects and relaxes an individual to a greater extent to complete at least 8 hours of sleep cycle. A 300mg of gabapentin is prescribed for insomniacs, taken three times a day, with caution of not taking it with any other sedating agents

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a disorder characterized by a lack of sleep or inability to sleep according to your pre-set biological cycle. A person cannot maintain a healthy sleep, followed by waking up during the night more than a couple of times, even after being relentlessly tired. It mainly occurs in adults and sometimes infants or teenagers in case of highly stressful situations, e.g., pain. Neurontin (gabapentin) is mainly prescribed by healthcare providers/Psychatriasts for the restful sleep of an adult or one suffering from insomnia if it persists.

A polysomnographic study revealed increased sleep efficiency and slow-wave sleep, decreased wake after sleep onset, and spontaneous arousal index after gabapentin treatment.

Is gabapentin good for anxiety? Consult Online Doctor

How Does Gabapentin Improve Your Sleep?

Gabapentin (Neurontin) decreases the neuronal activity of the brain, followed by decreased transmission of nerves. Reduced transmission helps relax the hyperactive or convulsant-bearing individuals, resulting in drowsiness and sleep.

Gabapentin drug belongs to the class of drugs called “Anticonvulsants,” mainly prescribed for seizures/convulsions caused due to epilepsy or post-herpetic neuralgia. It decreases the over-stimulation of the brain, causing the brain not only to decrease neuronal activity but give a sense of relief in the form of relaxation.

An outcome of gabapentin usage is drowsiness, leading to uninterrupted and tranquil sleep, effectively addressing insomnia concerns.

How Much Gabapentin Should I Take to Fall Asleep?

For insomnia: doses can range from 100 mg to 600 mg, mostly 300mg altogether daily, taken one to three times in a day. It’s important to note that gabapentin is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating insomnia; it’s approvable only if it’s prescribed by your healthcare provider for specifically treating insomnia.

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is not an over-the-counter medication and will only be dispensed on a prescription from your healthcare provider.

It is available in different dosage forms, including oral tablets, capsules, and oral solutions, and it will be prescribed according to your conditions. It is beneficial to take it in the prescribed dosage form when you are ready to go to bed for sleep.

Read More: How Does Gabapentin Help Nerve Pain?

How Sleepy Does Gabapentin Make You?

One of the common side effects of gabapentin is sedation which occurs to an extent as per the dose prescribed. Extended-release high doses will make you sleepy for more extended periods of time until they are released, and short-term doses will be less impactful in terms of drowsiness. If drowsiness is excessive, it’s good to consult a healthcare provider to adjust the dosage or discuss management strategies. Avoid activities requiring alertness if feeling overly drowsy.

What are the Side Effects of Gabapentin?

Drowsiness: It is one of the main side effects of gabapentin usage, and it’s prescribed for insomnia for its adverse effect of drowsiness. Many individuals may feel sleepy or lightheaded, especially during the initial use of gabapentin.

Fatigue/Lethargy: Some people might experience a sense of tiredness or lack of energy during the treatment with gabapentin. It’s good

Coordination Issues: Difficulty with balance and coordination could be widely observed in taking gabapentin because of its activity in the brain and decreases its neuronal transmission.

Peripheral Edema: Swelling in the hands and feet may occur in some instances due to accumulation and leakage of fluid in extracellular space.

Visual Disturbances: Blurry or double vision might be a potential side effect.

Gastrointestinal Problems: Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort are also possible due to gabapentin, though they are less common.

Weight Gain: Certain individuals could notice increased body weight while having gabapentin in the dosage regimen.

Mood Changes: Mood swings, irritability, and even feelings of depression or anxiety are potential side effects of gabapentin.

Memory and Concentration Challenges: Some people might experience difficulties with memory recall or focus.

Allergic Reactions: Rare instances of allergic reactions could involve skin rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or breathing issues requiring immediate medical attention. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergy related to gabapentin before taking the prescription.

Withdrawal Symptoms: Abruptly discontinuing gabapentin without medical consultation will lead to withdrawal effects such as anxiety, insomnia, and sweating. Gradual tapering of the drug is beneficial to avoid withdrawal effects.

Does gabapentin help you relax? Speak With Online Doctor

Consult a Doctor

Insomnia is a disorder characterized by the lack of sleep due to various triggering factors, including stress, pain, medical conditions like epilepsy, hypertension, anxiety, or caffeine/alcohol withdrawal. Seeking medical attention for the correct diagnosis will help you get the proper medication and treatment options.

FAQs About Gabapentin for Sleep

Which is better for sleep, trazodone or gabapentin?

Gabapentin is better for sleep/insomnia in patients. A study proved that gabapentin treatment improved significantly more than trazodone patients.

How long does it take gabapentin to kick in?

It will generally take 7-8 days for gabapentin to kick in and start treating insomnia. It’s important to note that its effect wont be the same for all the age groups with similar or different health status. It affects accordingly the age group and medical condition for which you are taking gabapentin.

Does gabapentin help with anxiety?

Yes, it helps with anxiety as well as stress. Gabapentin works by reducing neuronal activity and transmission, which helps with insomnia as well as anxiety by decreasing nerve transmission. The only loophole is it might take a week or two actually to see the results of anxiety reduction after gabapentin.

How long can you stay on gabapentin?

It’s usually prescribed for 30 days in case of insomnia to see positive results. The duration of dosage regimens for different medical conditions differs. In case of stress or anxiety, it might take 1 to 2 weeks to show its effect and will continue until it’s prescribed as per your healthcare provider

Can I take gabapentin and trazodone together for sleep?

Combining trazodone and gabapentin could potentially cause severe adverse effects, including sensations of dizziness, excessive drowsiness, cognitive confusion, and challenges in maintaining focus. This interaction might particularly affect older individuals, leading to potential declines in cognitive abilities, decision-making, and physical coordination.

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  • Lo HS, Yang CM, Lo HG, Lee CY, Ting H, Tzang BS. Treatment effects of gabapentin for primary insomnia. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2010 Mar-Apr;33(2):84-90. doi: 10.1097/WNF.0b013e3181cda242. PMID: 20124884.
  • Liu GJ, Karim MR, Xu LL, Wang SL, Yang C, Ding L, Wang YF. Efficacy and Tolerability of Gabapentin in Adults with Sleep Disturbance in Medical Illness: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Front Neurol. 2017 Jul 14;8:316. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2017.00316. PMID: 28769860; PMCID: PMC5510619.
  • Andres M. Kanner, Eric Ashman, David Gloss, Cynthia Harden, Blaise Bourgeois, Jocelyn F. Bautista, Bassel Abou-Khalil, Evren Burakgazi-Dalkilic, Esmeralda Llanas Park, John Stern, Deborah Hirtz, Mark Nespeca, Barry Gidal, Edward Faught, Jacqueline French, Neurology Jul 2018, 91 (2) 74-81; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005755
  • Hong, J.S.W., Atkinson, L.Z., Al-Juffali, N. et al. Gabapentin and pregabalin in bipolar disorder, anxiety states, and insomnia: Systematic review, meta-analysis, and rationale. Mol Psychiatry 27, 1339–1349 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01386-6
  • Medscape. Gabapentin Improves Menopausal Hot Flashes, Insomnia

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