Articles, DRUGS

Zaleplon – Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Interactions

In today’s high-paced world, sleep hardly ever comes to people, and when it does come, it comes at a price. Very few people are actually able to have a sound sleep every night nowadays, and most of the time the reason for that is increased work load and of course, modernization. In any case, insomnia has become as rampant as the common cold and many people suffer from severe insomnia, and hence, depression, due to the increasing pressure on normal life.

In these hard times, zaleplon comes as an angel in disguise to relieve people of their never-ending insomnia. The zaleplon drug is a sedative and hypnotic agent primarily used to treat insomnia. It belongs to the pyrazolopyrimidine class and is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent. It can put the user to instant sleep, and not just a light sleep but a deep, very satisfying and refreshing sleep. Its basic function is simple enough: that is to depress central nervous system just enough to cause drowsiness, thus instantly putting the person to a deep sleep.

Zaleplon DRUG

The scientific name of the zaleplon drug is N-[3-(3-cyanopyrazolo[1,5-a] pyrimidin-7-yl) phenyl]-N-ethylacetamide. It appears as an off white or white powder which is completely insoluble in water and comes as zaleplon capsules to be taken orally by the patient. It is insoluble in water but sparingly soluble in alcohol. It consists of inactive ingredients like colloidal silicon dioxide, gelatin, lactose, iron oxide black, magnesium stearate, cornstarch, glycol, cellulose and some more chemical compounds.


Zaleplon is mainly ever used as a hypnotic to make a person suffering from insomnia fall asleep. Its primary area of application is the treatment of general insomnia, however if the person suffers from time specific insomnia, for instance if the person is unable to sleep at night, but sleeps perfectly fine during the day, this medicine might not be the solution for that particular kind of insomnia.


The zaleplon drug works very fast and causes the person to fall asleep instantly, so it is important that the person take the medicine right before going to bed. However, the patient should only use it for night time sleep and not for naps and short term sleeping periods of less than 4 hours, because the medicine causes deep sleep and it becomes hard to wake the patient up after a little while if the patient takes zaleplon before the nap. Also, taking this medicine too much is also not advisable.

The medicine is generally taken by mouth according to the prescription of the doctor. Patients should avoid having a heavy, fatty meal within two hours of taking the medicine. Sticking to a light meal before taking the medicine is better as it reduces the chances of suffering from the side effects. Of course, the required prescription depends on a number of factors, both physiological and mental. Your age, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping disorder symptoms play a major role in deciding the dosage you should take. The medicine is taken as a short term respite from insomnia, and hence should be taken according to doctor’s discretion.

It may occur that even after taking the medicine, the user might still suffer from insomnia or sleeplessness for the first two days, but this is a very normal reaction to the medicine and is called rebound insomnia. You can always consult the physician if the sleeplessness continues even after taking the medicine. However, if you take the medicine for a long period of time, you might suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication. Withdrawal symptoms include stomach cramps, muscle pains, seizures, sweating and vomiting. To prevent these from happening, make sure that you gradually reduce the medicine dosage before completely stopping the medication.

It is very important to stick to the prescribed dosage and not increase it because, being a hypnotic and a sedative, it can cause addiction in the patient if taken without supervision, and once they get addicted to zaleplon, it becomes very hard to give up the medicine because then the patient will suffer from severe drug withdrawal symptoms.


Zaleplon can be taken in three different dosages, as zaleplon 10mg, zaleplon 5mg and zaleplon 20mg. In both adults and children, zaleplon is used to treat insomnia, however, the required zaleplon dosage depends on the age and other physical and mental factors of the patient.

For an adult, the recommended amount for proper sleep is 5mg to 20mg that should be taken orally right before one goes to bed, or after one has experienced a difficulty in falling asleep for the night. Anything above zaleplon 20mg is absolutely not recommended as the patient can go through several complications if the medicine is taken in excess.

Zaleplon can also be taken by elderly patients who have trouble sleeping. However, elderly patients are more sensitive to the medicine and hence, should be given the medicine with proper care. The perfect amount for the geriatric is 5mg, however one may go up to the zaleplon 10mg dosage if sleep doesn’t come. Anything above 10mg for the elderly is not recommended.

No zaleplon dosage adjustments need to be done in case of any kind of renal problems in the patient, however, if the patient suffers from liver problems, the dosage needs to be adjusted accordingly. The most suitable dose for a patient suffering from insomnia as well as liver problems is the zaleplon 5mg, but if the patient suffers from severe liver impairment problems, this medicine should be strictly avoided at all costs.


When a highly sedative drug like zaleplon is taken by someone, absolute precaution is necessary, otherwise it becomes very easy to abuse the medicine and get addicted to it. Of course, the usual precautions need to be followed, which include letting your doctor know of all your allergies and even your complete medical history. This allows the doctor to make an informed decision about whether or not to prescribe you this medicine, and how much needs to be prescribed for your body.

As is expected from a hypnotic, the zaleplon capsules make you dizzy even after you have had a good night’s sleep after taking it, so avoid using heavy machinery the next morning. In fact, do not do anything the next morning that requires alertness from your side, like driving, factory work, kitchen work, etc. Dizziness affects more when you get up fast from a sitting or lying position; you experience a kind of rush and may even get misbalanced as a result. To avoid that, pace yourself after having this medicine and do not do anything in a rush. Even simple activities like getting up and sitting down need to be done slowly and with patience.

In older patients, the effects of this hypnotic may be stronger, resulting in the occurrence of the common side effects of the medication, like short term memory loss, lack of coordination, dizziness and a general confusion. Given its sedative nature, one should also let their doctor know if they have been taking the zaleplon drug before they enter surgery, so as to enable the doctor to decide how much anesthetic your body requires.

Pregnant women and new mothers should try to avoid this medicine as much as possible, and only take the medicine when absolutely necessary. In new mothers, the risk comes when breast feeding their child, as the medicine may pass on to the breast milk, and thus to the child, and may have unprecedented effects on the child as a sedative. So be sure to consult with your doctor before you take this medicine pre or post natal.


Every drug, as a chemical, works in a different way with each other. They may combine and help the patient get better even faster, or they may negate each other’s effects and hinder all development in the patient, or patient may even suffer from unforeseen consequences upon random mix up of different drugs. With a strong sedative like zaleplon, it is especially essential to keep an eye on the interaction it has with other medications and alter your medications accordingly.

If you have a sort of liver problem and are on liver medications, you might want to consult your doctor regarding the taking of this medicine, because liver medications tend to wash off zaleplon from the system altogether. Most common liver medicines to work adversely on the drug are basically different azole antifungals, like ketoconazole, rifampin and cimetidine. Some anti-seizure medicines also have adverse effects on zaleplon, like phenytoin, Phenobarbital and carbamazepine. Other drugs which interact with the drug in a negative way include melatonin and sodium oxybate.

If you are on muscle relaxant medications, like cyclobenzaprine or carisoprodol, or take narcotic pain relievers, like hydrocodone or codeine, tell your doctor or local pharmacist about this. It is important to take zaleplon with absolute discretion in combination with these medications, and misuse may lead to severe problems which can even include being on coma. You should also let your doctor know if you are on other sleeping medicines such as diazepam, or are taking antihistamines such as diphenhydramine. You should also check the labels on your normal cold and fever medications and see if any of the ingredients in those medicines match any medicine which causes ill effects on the body in combination with zaleplon.


There are several zaleplon side effects, which can be anything from mild to very severe. Depending on the dosage you take and the physical and medical conditions of your body, you may react differently to the medicine from other people and may even experience side effects which others have never experienced.

The first 2 hours of taking the medicine is critical as you may suffer from any combination of dizziness, confusion, drowsiness and lack of body and mind coordination, which is why it is best if you don’t move about after taking the medication and go straight to bed.

Some unlikely zaleplon side effects include unusual behavior and sudden mood swings like agitation and confusion. You may, on rare occasions, see or hear things that are not really there, or in other words, suffer from hallucinations.

Some people have the tendency of sleep walking after taking this medicine, which can prove to be highly risky not only for the patient but those around them as well. Doing other things while being in a sleep induced state is also heard of, though rarely, which include eating, making phone calls, and even having sex. One may even go out on a drive, also known as sleep driving, after having this medicine. Obviously, the patients have no memory of doing any of these things the next morning, so it is paramount for the people around the patient to observe their behavior after taking the medicine and let them know in case of anomalies.

Though allergies to this medicine are extremely rare, one may suffer from rash and itching in certain body parts after taking this medication. Breathing troubles and severe dizziness even hours after taking the medicine are also heard of.

If you are suffering from insomnia or light sleeping habits, there is no better medicine for you than zaleplon. When taken in a controlled amount, this medicine has almost no side effects and can make you fall asleep in an instant, making you feel fresh and alive the next time you wake up. The best part of taking this medicine is that you don’t have to worry about it affecting your body, as it mainly works its magic on the brain and nowhere else.