Z-Drugs – Non-Benzodiazepines

Last updated: March 28, 2019

Z-drugs are a group of drugs that have effects similar to those of benzodiazepines. If your doctor has prescribed sleeping pills to you, your doctor gave you one of the Z-drugs.

These drugs are called Z-drugs because their names usually begin with the letter “Z’. These drugs came out in the latter part of the 1980s and the early 1990s.

Z-drugs are also known as non-benzodiazepines. They act like benzodiazepines but they are not the same. These drugs are used in treating sleep disorders like insomnia. Since these drugs do not have a unique classification; they are categorized into Cyclopyrrolones, Pyrazolopyrimidines, or Pyrazolopyrimidines. Take note though that not all non-benzodiazepines belong to the same category.

Eszopiclone

You probably know this medication under the name Lunesta. This medication is used to treat insomnia, helping you fall asleep faster. This drug can help you stay asleep longer and lessen the number of instances that you wake up during the night. As a sedative-hypnotic drug, Eszopiclone targets your brain to produce a calming effect.

You should limit its use to short periods of no longer than 2 weeks like most sedating drugs. You need to go back to your doctor if you still have trouble getting or staying asleep. This is so your doctor can prescribe another treatment that may work better for you.

One advantage of using Eszopiclone is there is less chance of drug abuse. You can use it longer without the risk of drug dependence compared to other hypnotic drugs.

How do I take Eszopiclone?

This medication is taken by mouth. You need to take this right before you get into bed and works faster when taken on an empty stomach.

The starting dose of Eszopiclone is 1 mg at bedtime. The recommended dosage varies depending on your age, medical condition, and liver functions; which the physician will determine. It is very important to heed the advice of your doctor and avoid altering the required dosage.

Zolpidem

Zolpidem is sold under several names but the most popular one is Ambien manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. This medication is the drug of choice for short-term insomnia and also used to cure restless legs syndrome.

If your doctor prescribed Zolpidem for your sleeping problems, you need to take extra care. When you take Zolpidem for a long period, it can result in drug dependence, which is something every medical professional doesn’t want to happen.

Patients who used Zolpidem have also complained about having the following side effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Decreased motor coordination
  • Impaired judgment.

Needless to say, you should not take zolpidem if you need to drive a car or if your job requires you to always be alert and focused.

What else should I know if I want to take Zolpidem?

Just like most sedating drugs, you need to take Zolpidem by mouth. Make sure to have an empty stomach before taking this drug if possible. Zolpidem may be less effective if you take it after a heavy meal.

You should also avoid taking this medication if you’re not ready for a full night’s sleep. Set aside at least 7 to 8 hours of sleeping time if you decide to use zolpidem. You may experience some memory loss if you wake up earlier. In addition, you might have some difficulty performing tasks that require mental and physical alertness.

Zopiclone

This is a type of sleeping pill used to treat chronic insomnia. Doctors prescribe this only for treating bad bouts of insomnia. This hypnotic can help you fall asleep quickly and it also helps stopping you from waking up during the night. You might be more familiar with its brand name Zimovane.

Zopiclone comes in tablet form. However, there is also a liquid variant for those who find it hard to swallow tablets. The liquid form of Zopiclone is not readily available though. Your doctor would have to place a special order if you need Zopiclone in liquid form.

What else should I know before taking Zopiclone?

Unlike other hypnotics that take effect almost immediately, zopiclone can take up to 1 hour before it can take effect.

Common side effects of this sedative include a metallic taste in the mouth, a dry mouth, and daytime sleepiness.

You should avoid taking this medication when you’re drinking alcohol. You might go into a deep sleep and have difficulty waking up if you combine alcohol and Zopiclone.

Zaleplon

Zaleplon is a hypnotic used as a short time treatment for those who have trouble falling asleep. You should not use this sedative if your problem is you cannot sleep through the night. You might know this drug through its brand name Sonata.

What else can you tell me about Zaleplon?

Zaleplon works very quickly. This is why you need to take it right before you go to bed. If you still have other things that you need to do, complete them before taking this hypnotic.

You should not take this sedative if you’re planning to just take a nap. Using Zaleplon as a sleeping pill for short periods of sleep may increase your risk of side effects. Common side effects of Zaleplon include drowsiness and memory loss.

The use of z-drugs is a means of helping people get some relief from sleeping disorders. This doesn’t mean though that you can just take your pick and use them whenever you want to. Consult your physician so you can get the right medication and to avoid the unwanted occurrence of adverse effects.

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The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.