Benzodiazepines & Sleep: How Use & Abuse Affects Your Sleep

Benzodiazepines & Sleep: How Use & Abuse Affects Your Sleep

Everyone gets a bad night of sleep now and then. Some nights, our mind races with thoughts that keep us awake. Other days we toss and turn and just cannot seem to get comfortable. When people consistently have trouble catching those Zs, some will turn to benzodiazepines as a sleep aid.

Using Benzodiazepines for Sleep

Benzodiazepines or benzos are tranquilizers that depress the central nervous system. They can be used to treat a variety of problems including anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, seizures, and insomnia. Some commonly used benzos for sleep problems include ProSom, Restoril, Ativan and Xanax. Because they can be addictive, benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for shorter periods of time and may only act as a temporary solution.

Benzos & Sleep Quality

While benzos are used to help with insomnia, the relationship between benzodiazepines and sleep is a bit more complicated than mosy people realize. Benzos can help people fall asleep and stay asleep longer, but the quality of that sleep may not be the best. Benzodiazepines reduce the amount of time someone spends in delta and REM sleep. These stages of sleep help people feel refreshed in the morning.1,2 For this reason, some people who take benzos to sleep at night may feel drowsy the next day.

Although benzodiazepines are typically prescribed for shorter amounts of time, some people will abuse these drugs. In a survey of people who had misused benzodiazepines in the past year, 22.4% reported doing so to help them sleep.3 When people consistently misuse these drugs it can lead to an addiction. If the user does not get help at a standard or luxury residential rehab, their chronic abuse of benzodiazepines could cause their initial reason for taking the drug to reappear, including insomnia.4

Benzo Withdrawal & Insomnia

Whether someone is being weaned off of these drugs by their doctor or they are at a luxury detox center to stop their abuse, benzodiazepine withdrawal may also impact sleep. Especially if the user was on benzodiazepines for a longer period of time and discontinued use abruptly, the user is more likely to experience sleep problems. When the body becomes dependent on these drugs to fall asleep, the user may start to experience rebound insomnia that is even worse than their initial sleep problems during withdrawal.1 Although people may experience insomnia during withdrawal, the quality of the sleep they do get does tend to improve and their time in delta and REM sleep is no longer being suppressed by the benzodiazepines.5

Benzodiazepines and sleep have a complicated relationship, especially when it comes to abuse and dependence, but that could only be the beginning of your problems. If you are abusing benzodiazepines or other prescription drugs, you should not wait to get help. Our luxury partial hospitalization program in Palm Beach could help you stop taking these drugs before more serious problems arise.

At Seaside Palm Beach, we help people get and stay sober. To begin your journey to recovery today, reach out to us now at 561-677-9374.



  1. Health Harvard – Overcoming Insomnia
  2. PubMed – Why Low-Dose Benzodiazepine-Dependent Insomniacs Can’t Escape Their Sleeping Pills
  3. NIH – Research suggests benzodiazepine use is high while use disorder rates are low
  4. WebMD – Benzodiazepine Abuse
  5. NCBI – Medications for the Treatment of Sleep Disorders: An Overview

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