Top 10 Things To Know About Zopiclone

    Zopiclone is a popular medication that is often prescribed to people who need relief from sleep-related conditions such as insomnia. In this article, we will outline the top 10 things you need to know about the medication, such as its primary uses, how long it takes to work, the amount of time someone might expect to use it for and more. This guide will tell you all you need to know about Zopiclone.

    1 - What is Zopiclone prescribed for?

    According to the NHS, Zopiclone is primarily prescribed for treating short-term insomnia. Insomnia is a common sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Insomnia can be categorised into acute or chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia is a brief episode of difficulty sleeping, sometimes caused by a specific event such as stress, a traumatic event, or changes in the sleep environment. Chronic insomnia is when sleep is disrupted at least three nights a week and lasts for at least three months

    2 - How long does Zopiclone take to work?

    Zopiclone usually starts to work quickly. Typically, according to the NHS, it takes about 1 hour for the medication to take full effect. It's generally recommended to take Zopiclone right before you go to bed, ensuring that you have at least 7-8 hours ahead to sleep, to minimise the chances of experiencing drowsiness the next day. If you forget to take your medication then you should skip the dose that you missed and take your next dose at the usual time the next night. You should never take two doses at once, or take another dose to replace the one you missed. 

    3 - How long is Zopiclone prescribed for?

    Zopiclone is typically prescribed on a short-term basis to help manage insomnia. Typically, Zopiclone is prescribed for around 7-14 days (Thornton, 2023). This limited duration helps prevent dependency and reduces the potential for side effects, including diminished effectiveness which is possible over time. If insomnia persists or if there are concerns about dependence on the medication, it’s important to discuss with your healthcare provider what the best course of action would be moving forward.

    4 - Does your body get used to Zopiclone?

    Yes, over time, your body can become accustomed to Zopiclone. This is known as Zopiclone tolerance. According to the NHS, your body can quickly become accustomed to the medication, and once it is accustomed it will not have the same or desired effect. When someone develops tolerance to a medication like Zopiclone, they might find that they need to take a larger dose to achieve the same sleep-inducing effects they initially experienced.

    5 - Can you become dependent on Zopiclone?

    Yes, it is possible to become dependent on Zopiclone. Dependence refers to a state where the body becomes accustomed to the presence of a substance, in this case, Zopiclone, and may function differently without it. Zopiclone dependence is an issue that needs to be addressed (Sikdar, 1998). When someone becomes dependent on Zopiclone, they might feel the need to continue taking the medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms or to achieve the desired effects on sleep. If the medication is stopped suddenly, withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness, can occur (Cimolai, 2007).

    6 - What are the common side effects that Zopiclone can have?

    As with all other medications, Zopiclone can cause side effects that some users may experience. Some side effects are more common than others, and some are also more severe than others. The most common side effects include (Wadworth & McTavish, 1993):

    • Bitter taste in the mouth

    • Dry mouth

    According to the NHS, some of the more serious side effects of Zopiclone usage include:

    • Amnesia

    • Hallucinations

    • Falling over, especially if you’re over the age of 65

    • Delusions

    • Feelings of depression or sadness

    7 - Can Zopiclone interact with alcohol?

    Yes, Zopiclone can interact with alcohol, and the combination is not recommended. According to the NHS, taking Zopiclone and drinking alcohol can cause deep sleep. This can lead to difficulty waking up (Thornton, 2023). Mixing Zopiclone with alcohol can also lead to difficulty with coherence and balance, leading to falls. In some severe cases, drinking alcohol and using Zopiclone can cause death (Tanaka, 2003). Because of this, Zopiclone is very rarely prescribed to people with a history of drug or alcohol abuse (Chaplin et al, 2013)

    8 - Is it safe to take Zopiclone when using machinery or driving?

    No, it's not advisable to use machinery or drive after taking Zopiclone. According to the NHS, some people feel sleepy the morning after they have used the medication, which could potentially impact day-to-day activities. If this is the case, you should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. This is because the sedative effects of both Zopiclone and alcohol can enhance one another (Weathermon & Crabb, 1999). In the UK, the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) guidelines state that individuals should not drive (or operate machinery) until they know how their medication will affect them. 

    9 - Is Zopiclone safe for Children?

    According to the EMC, Zopiclone is generally not recommended for use in children and adolescents under 18 years of age. This is because the safety and efficacy of Zopiclone in this age group have not been adequately established (Thornton, 2023). If a doctor deems that a sleep medication is necessary, a paediatrician or child psychiatrist would typically be involved in the decision-making process, and the chosen medication would be one with established safety and efficacy in children.

    10 - Do you need a prescription for Zopiclone?

    Yes, in the UK, you do need a prescription to obtain Zopiclone. EU Meds offer a free private prescription upon successful completion and review of an online consultation form. The questions in this form are very similar to the ones a Doctor would ask you in person and are there to ensure that the medication is suitable for you. Zopiclone is a controlled drug because of its potential for misuse and dependence. Doctors and healthcare providers prescribe it after evaluating the patient's medical history and the suitability of the medication for their specific condition. For all of the information you need to know about your medication when you receive it, it is recommended that you look at the patient information leaflet provided with the medication. 

    Medically Reviewed by:
    Dr. Irfan Siddique MBBS
    GMC reference no: 7694522


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