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Seroquel For Insomnia: A Risky Off-Label Treatment

Seroquel (Quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic medication developed and promoted by the company AstraZeneca.  It is utilized for the treatment of serious psychiatric conditions, primarily schizophrenia.  The “XR” (extended-release) version was among the top selling psychiatric drugs of 2013, and is clearly very profitable for both its developer as well as doctors that receive kickbacks for each prescription.

Estimated sales for Seroquel are over $1 billion, and steadily increasing.  In addition to treating various types of schizophrenia, the drug is also commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder and as an augmentation strategy for major depression.  In recent years, there has been a major uptick in the number of Seroquel prescriptions for insomnia.

Although Seroquel may be helpful for some cases of insomnia, there are considerable risks associated with using an antipsychotic rather than a standard hypnotic or even an antidepressant.  Many doctors are quick to dole out Seroquel and should be questioned for such prescriptions due to the fact that Seroquel has not been formally approved by the FDA for treating insomnia.  Furthermore, many patients taking Seroquel for their inability to sleep may be unaware of the potential risk – especially over the long-term.

Seroquel For Insomnia: A Risky Off-Label Treatment

Those taking Seroquel for insomnia are generally prescribed low doses to get the antihistamine effect.  Low doses of the drug block both histamine receptors and Alpha-1 adrenergic receptors.  The drug is unique in that when taken at moderate doses, Seroquel stimulates the adrenergic system and targets serotonin receptors.  At higher doses, the drug inhibits dopamine receptors and elicits an antipsychotic effect.

While it has been argued that taking Seroquel at a low dose may be helpful to treat insomnia, there are various risks associated with long-term treatment.  The drug affects the neurotransmission of dopamine, serotonin, and histamine – likely in many ways that still remain unknown.  If you are currently taking Seroquel for insomnia or are considering it, beware of the potential risks and benefits.

Potential Benefits of Seroquel for Insomnia

Below is a list of potential benefits associated with using Seroquel for insomnia.  Understand that these benefits are limited and do not apply to everyone.

  • Cost: Generic versions of Seroquel (quetiapine) are available, meaning you can get it for relatively cheap, especially at a low dose.  As the dosage increases, the pills tend to cost more, but for the most part, this medication is inexpensive. In some cases, the lower cost may be appealing or favorable to brand-name sleeping pills.
  • Effective: When taken at low doses, the drug elicits an antihistamine effect, which results in drowsiness.  This means when taken before bed, it can expedite the transition between wakefulness and sleep.  The drug may make it easier to tone down stimulation due to stress or excess activation of the sympathetic nervous system.  Although it isn’t an effective option for everyone, there are a significant number of anecdotal experiences highlighting its efficacy.  It could be speculated that Seroquel works better for certain types of insomnia over others.
  • Low dose: Any drug utilized for the treatment of insomnia should be taken at the minimal effective dose.  Taking excess amounts of the drug may result in tolerance, and in the case of Seroquel, may elicit additional unwanted antipsychotic effects.  The fact that only a low dose is required is a plus in that it may not create as many neurochemical changes, resulting in fewer side effects and an easier withdrawal.
  • Sleep enhancement: In addition to helping people fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, Seroquel may actually bolster sleep quality.  In other words, getting 8 hours of sleep with the drug may be more restful and restorative than a broken sleep or less deep sleep without the drug.  The sleep enhancement potential of the drug is appealing to many who feel as if their sleep quality is suboptimal.
  • Temporary: Most sources suggest that using Seroquel for insomnia should be temporary.  Assuming patients and doctors adhere to its usage only for a short, temporary term, it should be fairly safe.  Although it may be relatively risky in terms of side effect profile, a low dose on a temporary basis is considered justifiable by many doctors and psychiatrists when used for insomnia.
  • Treat multiple conditions: Another appealing aspect of Seroquel is that it can be used to essentially “kill 2 birds with 1 stone.”  Therefore if someone has schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression with comorbid insomnia, it may be effective for both conditions.  The ideal usage would be to treat schizophrenia with comorbid insomnia, but many have also found that it can work well for depression.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612245/

Potential Drawbacks of Seroquel for Insomnia

It is important to thoroughly understand the risks associated with using a potent antipsychotic drug, especially for a less serious psychiatric condition like insomnia.  Although medication may be required for insomnia if natural interventions remain ineffective, standard hypnotics should be considered as a first-line treatment, whereas Seroquel should be a last-line option.

Better, proven treatments: Unless a person has a comorbid serious mental illness like schizophrenia, Seroquel shouldn’t be considered as a treatment for insomnia.  There are considerably better, more proven options than using an antipsychotic to improve sleep.  Examples of drugs that sleep experts would recommend include: Z-drugs (Ambien, Lunesta, Rozerem), antidepressants (e.g. Trazodone for insomnia), and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin).

If a person has gone through the ringer of sleeping pills, and they are all found ineffective, only then should a drug like Seroquel be considered.  While benzodiazepines are linked to dementia, various antidepressants are considered safer options than antipsychotics.  Additionally, none of these drugs are meant to be taken over the long-term.

Brain volume loss: There is notable evidence that taking antipsychotics can lead to loss of brain volume.  This means that not only could you be killing brain cells by using Seroquel for insomnia.  Research in both animals and humans has established that antipsychotic usage is associated with reduced volume of both grey matter and white matter.

Dependence: While makers of the drug and psychiatrists may not admit it, many people become dependent upon Seroquel for functioning.  If you’re taking it for insomnia, you may depend on it as a means to fall asleep.  In other words, people like the fact that the drug is working so well, that they never attempt any natural remedies for insomnia such as deep breathing, relaxation techniques, meditation, or avoiding caffeine. Should they ever stop incorporating the drug in their routine, they may feel as if they cannot function.

Drowsiness: The drowsiness experienced from the drug may be helpful when it comes to falling asleep, but may impair your ability to function the next day.  You may find that you experience overwhelming brain fog or can’t think as well throughout your workday.  Additionally, you could be hazard to others if you chose to drive (or operate heavy machinery) while in this state of drowsiness.

Lack of evidence: There is little evidence to suggest that low dose Seroquel is an effective treatment for insomnia.  Despite the drug’s perception of being an effective treatment for insomnia, there is minimal evidence in support of these claims. Most studies analyzing its ability to treat insomnia were short-term and contained small sample sizes.

Long-term effects: It has been advised that Seroquel shouldn’t be used for longer than 30 days (even at a low dose) for the specific purpose of treating insomnia.  Using Seroquel even for a moderate term may result in some sort of dependence and/or neurochemical alterations that may result in a difficult withdrawal.  Long-term usage is associated with increasing dosages as a result of tolerance and ultimately more potent side effects (e.g. brain volume loss).

Lethargy: In addition to feeling drowsy and experiencing significant brain fog, you may become lethargic.  It may be difficult to take care of yourself, get out of bed in the morning, or even think about exercise.  This lethargy can accumulate over time, transforming someone who was previously active into a major couch potato.

Safety concerns: Research suggests that despite Seroquel’s anecdotal efficacy for treating insomnia, there are numerous safety concerns.  These safety concerns are largely a result of reported adverse reactions (even at a low dose) including: liver damage, restless leg syndrome, and akathisia.  Many times these safety concerns aren’t discussed between patient and doctor, leaving the patient to remain unaware.

Side effects: Due to the fact that this is a potent antipsychotic, you’re likely going to experience some side effects, even when taken at a low dose.  The side effects could include: dry mouth, dizziness, sore throat, and stomach pain.  It is important to fully understand the drug’s side effect profile before using it to treat insomnia; the side effects may outweigh the benefit.

Weight gain: Want to experience rapid weight gain? Try taking Seroquel.  There is significant evidence linking Seroquel and weight gain.  Although taking a low dose for insomnia won’t result in as much extra “baggage” as taking high doses for schizophrenia, it may ramp up your cravings for food – especially at night.  If you find yourself raiding the fridge more often, it’s probably the medication.

Withdrawal: Taking low doses of the drug for the purpose of treating insomnia can still result in discontinuation effects.  The Seroquel withdrawal symptoms are often considered difficult to cope with, and include both nausea and insomnia.  The irony is that your insomnia during withdrawal may be even worse than prior to your first dose of the drug.

This is due to the fact that your brain had become reliant on the drug and no longer manufactured endogenous hormones and neurotransmitters to facilitate sleep.  Although low dose withdrawal may not be as bad as higher dose withdrawal, if you were taking the drug for a long-term, the withdrawal period may last longer than you’d expect (e.g. weeks or months).

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3476840/

Does the evidence justify using Seroquel for insomnia?

Seroquel has been studied for the treatment of insomnia in very few studies.  There are a couple randomized, controlled trials that investigated Seroquel’s ability to treat insomnia among individuals void of psychiatric or medical conditions.  The 2004 study analyzed how people without insomnia would respond to Seroquel in terms of sleep.

This study consisted of 14 participants (all males) with a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled set-up.  Either a placebo or Seroquel (at 25 mg or 100 mg) were given on 3 consecutive nights to determine how participants would respond.  Sleep-related questionnaires were administered the following morning.  Sleep time, efficiency, and latency were all documented by researchers.

Those taking the 100 mg dose experienced leg movements and reduced REM stage sleep.  Researchers vaguely concluded that Seroquel may improve sleep and/or modify sleep structure.  The 2010 study analyzed how 25 individuals with primary insomnia would respond to Seroquel as a treatment.

Results from the study revealed that those taking 25 mg of Seroquel increased their TST (total sleep time) and reduced their SL (sleep latency).  In other words, people slept longer and fell asleep quicker when they took Seroquel.  However, these changes in total sleep time and sleep latency times were not statistically significant.

Though there is some evidence to suggest that Seroquel may improve the sleep of some individuals, there is minimal research supporting this idea.  Some doctors resort to prescribing the drug simply to avoid reaching limits for prescriptions of sedative agents and/or as a sneaky way to bypass Medicaid managed care plan authorization requirements.  Not only is there no substantial evidence to support the use of Seroquel for insomnia, it is a risky option in regards to side effects and adverse reactions.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15029469
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20572379
  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22510671
  • Source: http://www.orpdl.org/durm/drug_articles/evaluations/seroquel_due.pdf

Risk-Benefit Ratio of Seroquel for Insomnia

If you plan on using Seroquel to treat your insomnia, it is important to analyze the potential risks and benefits.  You should constantly be weighing the pros and cons associated with your treatment.  If the drug is working well to treat your insomnia, carries few side effects, and you don’t plan on using it for a long-term – its usage may be justified.

In the event that the drug isn’t working very well for your insomnia, you’ve failed to explore standard hypnotics, and you’re experiencing side effects – it may be advisable to discontinue Seroquel and transition to a more evidence-based hypnotic.  It is important to keep in mind that each person taking Seroquel for insomnia may have a different set of risks and benefits.

Some individuals report that Seroquel is the only drug that provides lasting insomnia relief, while others have found that Seroquel does nothing to reduce insomnia or enhance sleep quality.  Additionally, this drug should not be considered a long-term solution as associated risks will greatly increase (e.g. adverse reactions).

Should you take Seroquel for insomnia?

While Seroquel may be a profitable medication for AstraZeneca and doctors to prescribe, it’s not officially approved for the treatment of insomnia.  Therefore all other options should be exhausted before resorting to the potent antipsychotic that is Seroquel.  Assuming you’ve given natural remedies for insomnia a try such as: daily exercise in the morning, meditation, emWave2, you may need a medication.

However even before a medication, you may want to investigate the therapeutic potential of supplements including: melatonin, valerian root, or L-Tryptophan.  Only after you’ve tested the natural options should you think about medications.  Visiting a sleep expert may help you get a better idea as to what’s causing your insomnia, and get a better idea of the most effective pharmaceutical sleeping pills.

Since nonbenzodiazepine sleeping pills have proven themselves as an effective first-line treatment, those should be tested prior to others.  Should those be ineffective, a doctor may test certain antidepressants, which are considered safer than Seroquel.  If you’re unresponsive to all treatment modalities, extremely low dose Seroquel may be an effective option.

Seroquel vs. Z-Drugs

A majority of people will respond very well to Z-drugs (nonbenzodiazepines) as a means to fall asleep.  Z-drugs have proven themselves as effective agents in large-scale studies, and are considered relatively safe when used properly as a short-term intervention.  The Z-drugs are medications that are specifically engineered with the purpose of reducing sleep latency and improving sleep quality.

Seroquel was designed to target various symptoms of schizophrenia, making it more likely to disrupt your neurotransmission.  A majority of sleep experts would not recommend using Seroquel when there are clearly more effective and safer options on the market.  Unless you’ve already explored the potential of the FDA approved sleep aids, you shouldn’t be in any hurry to try Seroquel for insomnia.

Ideal: Seroquel for Schizophrenia with comorbid Insomnia

The ideal scenario for using Seroquel as a treatment for insomnia is among those with a serious psychiatric condition like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.  Seroquel is considered an approved treatment for those conditions.  Should an individual find that the drug works well for their schizophrenia, they may get the added benefit of improved sleep.

It is important to also consider the fact that the drug may work well for the approved condition (schizophrenia) and poorly for the off-label condition (insomnia).  In cases where a person suffers from depression and insomnia, a psychiatrist may consider testing low dose Seroquel to determine whether the drug simultaneously improves the patient’s mood and sleep quality.  In some cases the drug may be ineffective for both conditions; this is also something to consider.

Have you taken Seroquel for insomnia?

If you’ve taken Seroquel for insomnia, feel free to share whether you have any other conditions or solely insomnia.  To help others better understand your situation, explain whether you are on a low dose, moderate dose, or high dose – and whether you’ve had to increase the dose over time.  Share how long you’ve been taking the drug for insomnia and whether you’ve experienced any unwanted side effects.

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{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Cathy Marx November 4, 2015, 4:05 pm

    I have tried every imaginable sleep aid from Ambien to Belsomra to a host of benzodiazepines. These medications did absolutely nothing in helping my insomnia. I was recently prescribed 25 mg of seroquel. It is like a miracle. After not sleeping more than 3-4 hours per night for over 6 years (since the death of my 17 year old daughter) I am finally sleeping.

    I wake several times during the night but can quickly fall back asleep. I now get at least 7 hours of sleep which is a god send. The side effects I have been experiencing are very vivid dreams – due to longer REM cycles as well as increased appetite especially at night and grogginess upon waking for about an hour. I will gladly accept these side effects in order to finally, finally sleep.

  • IJG November 12, 2015, 5:28 pm

    For years I couldn’t sleep. I became irritated by the most minor issues. I would frequently lose my temper and had a hard time managing my emotions. Everything became worse, heightened when I learned I had diabetes. A doctor diagnosed me with depression and prescribed Seroquel to help me sleep which would also help with my depression and mood swings. At first I couldn’t function. I was so groggy the next day I could barely stand. My endocrinologist realized I was on the generic pill and gave me a new prescription specifying only the brand should be given.

    Within a week I was back to normal. Better than normal because not only was I sleeping, I was calmer. I’ve now been on the drug for a year and people who have known me my whole life sense the change from angry all the time to a more rational calm version of myself. I am so grateful to have a medical team who are diligent and insightful. Thank you makers of Seroquel!

    • JMaze June 20, 2016, 12:21 pm

      Make sure you keep an eye on your diabetes whilst taking seroquel (quetiapine) as a side effect is it can increase you chances of getting medication induced diabetes and making it worse if you already have it, by increasing blood sugar levels.

  • michael December 28, 2015, 11:33 am

    I have been taking 25 mgs at night for approximately a year. Its worked a treat for me. Have never had to increase the dose, it has not lost any effectiveness & have maintained my exercise regime. No significant weight gain either. A fantastic sleep aid in my opinion.

  • William McBaine December 29, 2015, 12:10 pm

    I am 71 years old in good health – arthritis and moderate hypertension being my only chronic physical problems. I am a life-long insomniac and have tried virtually every class of sleep medication at some time or the other. Typically I abandon the drug b/c of hangover effects. My wife was prescribed very low dose Seroquel ( 1/4 to 1/2 of one 25 mg tablet) as an adjunct to her antidepressant therapy for sleep.

    It seemed to help her and I tried it. Let me tell you it was like magic except 1/4 tablet seemed too much and I suffered painful bruxism. I obtained my own prescription and take 1/5, ~5 milligrams, at bedtime with SUPER results. It is as though I am sleeping restfully for the first time in decades. Yeah, I’m a little groggy in the morning but pleasantly so, easy to get past.

    The list of potential adverse effects (loss of brain volume, difficulty in withdrawing from use, permanent alteration in brain chemistry) scares me such that I guess I will stop using it but boy will I miss it. It has been a Godsend for me and I will continue to keep it in reserve for episodic need (traveling, stressful situations, etc.).

  • SRW January 4, 2016, 6:30 pm

    I have had nearly the same effects as Michael. About 1 year on 12.5 (split from 25) mg. Sometimes 25, sometimes 12.5. I am a type II in the bipolar spectrum with really good results from 250 mg lamotrigine. Really helps the hallmark depression and seems to mute the occasional hypo-manic side as well (a bit).

    I used to have what I called “rapid flash cards” or “fast changing colorful mosaics” occasionally going on at the beginning of sleep making it hard to fall asleep or it would awaken me after a few hours and and that was it for the rest of the night. The seroquel (quetiapine) has arrested that completely and no side effects as far as I can observe.

    I’ve never failed to full on sleep for 7-8 hours, wake up, cup of coffee and good to go. I intend to use both meds for the rest of my life. I’m 62 now and it’s been amazingly beneficial. Like a diabetic discovering insulin. But that’s just me. I think I got lucky. Seems a no-brainier for me…

  • Loredana February 5, 2016, 9:53 pm

    I was put on 100 mg’s of Seroquel because I was on 100 mg’s of Trazodone, but would wake up in a panic and have whole body tremors that would take hours to go away. I am also on 4 to 5 mg’s of Klonopin. At first the 100 was enough, but then it wasn’t, so I was told to take another 50 mg’s and it worked. However, then my mind would wake up, but I could not get my body to get out of bed.

    In time, the 150 mg’s also stopped working and as time went on I gained weight, have severe muscle pain and weakness, insomnia again, strong suicidal thoughts, severe brain fog, agitation, uncontrollable body movements, NO APPETITE WHATSOEVER, cannot concentrate, depression, constipation, and either anxiety or feeling totally empty of emotionally. I’m trying to withdraw slowly, but I’M IN HELL!!!!!

    I’m now going on day 4 of only 4 hours of sleep and cannot even take a shower without much strain. IF THERE IS ANYONE WHO CAN PLEASE GIVE ME SOME ADVICE, PLEASE DO HELP ME. My psychiatrist has told me to go back to the psych hospital, have more ECT, and basically copped out on me. I’M DESPERATE FOR HELP.

    • Sherry February 16, 2016, 1:17 am

      In 2004, my behavioral meds doctor gave me the 100 mg tablets. The first one, well, it didn’t seem to be doing anything, so I went in the kitchen to make a sandwich, next thing I knew, I was on my back in the floor, I had no idea how I got there and couldn’t figure out why my eyes wouldn’t open. They WERE open, I was just blind. He the said he’d start me out on 12.5 mg and let me adjust it until I worked myself up to 200mg/night.

      The weight just piled on and I want off this drug! I have worked backwards from 200 mg/ night to 50 mg, but my doctor abandoned me and hundreds of other patients. Down through the years, I’ve been through four or five doctors and they just kept writing the scrips. What scares me, when I run out, I can stay awake for days but after about four days, I can get homicidal/suicidal, depending on what is stressing me at the time.

      I’m afraid because I’m now going through the withdrawal from oxycodone (5mg, 3x/day) and xanax (.25 mg, 3x/day). The diarrhea is unbearable, website said to take Imodium. The only way I figure THAT’S gonna work is if someone sticks the entire bottle in there! LOL

  • Lisa nelson February 11, 2016, 1:30 pm

    I’m only past day 1 of seroquel 150 XR for bipolar II. Insomniac for 8 years to the point of non functioning. I just slept 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. with NO nighttime waking at all!!! I can only pray this continues. What confuses me is the really low doses people are on. What’s the difference between regular and XR, and what about the doses? Is it because I’m bipolar also??

  • Thomas February 23, 2016, 8:45 pm

    I used Seroquel for depression and sleep (400mg/nightly) for ten years. Two years ago I tapered from the 400 to 50mg (took a year to do this) and then stopped completely (50mg to nothing) one year ago. All doses of Seroquel provided eight hours of continual sleep. Since stopping I sleep for three hours- get up for two hours – and then back to bed for another two to three hours – totaling five to six hours a night.

    I’m hoping for better sleep but it’s difficult to attain the eight hours I enjoyed in my Seroquel days. I quit the drug because of concerns over long term side effects (weight gain, sluggishness, foggy thinking). Will my sleep ever return to “normal”? Don’t know – but I can function quite well on six hours.

    Depression has been largely absent. Will I return to it? No because it’s been so very difficult to quit. Each month I’m making small but steady gains in sleep. I think more clearly and rationally without the drug.

    • Sue September 10, 2016, 2:47 am

      Yep, similar to me. I was put on 50mg of Seroquel XR for sleep when I had post natal depression, then I changed to 25mg of standard Seroquel. Finally, I went to 12.5mg of Seroquel. I would sleep for 7-8 hours so beautifully!! But I found that I had gained around 5kg so I decided to stop. The first 3 days of stopping were hideous!!

      Terrible stomach pain and no sleep! But 2kg came off me within 3 weeks. I’m now back to a very healthy weight. Fast forward 4 months and my sleep is terrible! I wish the Seroquel didn’t have the side affects! I still occasionally take the Seroquel (only 12.5mg) which is fine because it doesn’t build up in your system.

  • DMG March 13, 2016, 3:48 pm

    I think Seroquel is a godsend for insomnia! I am a 30 year old female who is also diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. I have in the past been on a whole slew of medications (sometimes as many as 8 to 10 at a time) with no avail to my psychotic/bipolar behavior.

    Recently I was put on Seroquel 50mg 1-3 at bedtime and Paxil 10mg once a day… and believe it or not I AM HAPPY TO REPORT THAT I AM NOW A HAPPY FUNCTIONING ADULT!! I feel like I owe it all to the Seroquel as I know most of my problems came from the insomnia. You would be surprised what not getting enough sleep at night will do to your mind and body!!

    It’s horrible!! Only side effect I have experienced has been slight grogginess upon first waking but it doesn’t last long AND IS WELL WORTH IT!!

    • Jessica May 26, 2016, 7:47 pm

      Have you experienced weight gain? Thanks!

  • pedro - spain March 18, 2016, 8:58 am

    I’ve been suffering split sleep for years, been prescribed every possible pill, from benzodiazepines to antidepressants, with no good results. Some made me sleep longer but did not wake ok. Today it was my first day on quetiapine 12mg (half 25mg pill) and I feel good, could restfully sleep for 5 hours. No side effects for the moment.

  • Ann March 26, 2016, 3:34 pm

    I do not recommend this for sleeping disorders. It changes your thought process and how you function. I took this on and off for 2 years at a dose of 12.5 mgs and it worked right away. Then I noticed my thought process was interrupted during the day. It made me groggy and confused so much that it created anxiety in me because I wasn’t able to make simple thought calculations.

    It basically interfered with my daily functions, as though I had to concentrate on every key stroke I made on my computer. The more I tried to focus, the more mistakes I made. I stopped all forms of exercise to the point where I gained weight. It’s made me lethargic. I even stopped walking my dog which was such a great pleasure for me. My husband took on all the responsibility.

    I’m glad to say I’ve stopped using for almost 2 weeks. I used to sleep 8 hours with it and when I stopped, I first slept 5-6 hours and now I’m up to 7-8 hours. Even if I wake up, I still manage to fall asleep. I changed my sleeping habits by not watching TV in my room and going to bed around the same time. I read an article or play a word game on my tablet – nothing too mind boggling.

    I feel some withdrawal symptoms such as confusion and dizzy spells but not anything like when I was taking the drug.

  • Liz April 5, 2016, 4:55 am

    I take Seroquel (25 mg) approx 1 hour before going to sleep every night… it’s been almost 2 years since a doctor prescribed this to me and I call him my hero because for the first time since age 9 I can sleep like a normal person! My entire life I’ve had insomnia. My mom took me to doctors since I can remember as I would only sleep 4 or 5 hours a night.

    I’ve always functioned well but now that I’m 61 I don’t feel well without enough sleep. I’ve tried every sleeping pill on the planet. I don’t have a problem falling asleep, just can’t stay asleep. I do all my thinking when horizontal and when I wake up, that’s it… no going back to sleep. I really like Seroquel! Hopefully it’s not damaging my brain. It’s a concern as I’m truly addicted to it.

  • LLP April 30, 2016, 6:09 am

    My chronic pain doctor, after exhausting all other sleep meds, prescribed 100mg. generic Seroquel. I’m 49 yrs old. I have no bipolar or schizophrenia. I’ve been on and off it for a year. Off, my choice because I don’t like the side effects. But it’s the only thing that’s helped. I have to take it at least 2 hrs before I want to sleep.

    I think I’ll pitch them again, tho. One side effect that I’m surprised nobody mentioned; my face changes. My eyes become little slits and my whole face droops. I have circles under my eyes that have never gone away. My speech is also slurred and I have trouble swallowing. Other: dŕy mouth, stuffed up nose, foggy brain, inability to be creative (my writing)… plus everything y’all said too.

    I told my doc I didn’t like side effects so he told me to break in half, which would be 50mg but that does not work. I need 100mg. I don’t like the side effects and am afraid for long-term effects as well. I’ll toss them. It’s a shame since they worked better than any others.

  • PWS May 19, 2016, 3:30 pm

    My general physician just prescribed me the 25 mg. After doing a lot of online research, I refuse to fill this/take this. For one thing, there was no discussion of either side effects or long-term effects. I went into the doctor hoping for a limited (i.e. 14 tablet) prescription for a benzodiazepine hypnotic, such as midazolam…but no dice (I do not have chem dep issues and in fact am overly careful with potentially addictive meds).

    I won’t take this for insomnia; it’s a non-approved, off label, poorly researched use of this medication. Back to warm milk, meditation and maybe a diphenhydramine (Benadryl) tablet…

  • bongstar420 June 2, 2016, 9:36 pm

    Seroquel is #1 in my book. Its the only one that works every time and does not make me feel funny the next day or produce any noticeable “side effects.” After that, it would be a strong indica but I get less consistent results though I mostly just smoke pot for it. Mirtazapine works fabulously well but makes me feel funny afterwards.

    I could get sleep from 1/4th of a pill of the smallest dose. I’ve taken all the stuff labeled for sleep and many off labeled drugs as well. Most of the stuff labeled for sleep is crap. Not a single one is a 5HT2a antagonist!

  • Adam June 10, 2016, 11:07 pm

    I take 50mg of Seroquel a night, but sometimes only 25mg and occasionally skip a night or two in a row either accidentally or I do it on purpose to see if I can go to sleep on my own. It’s usually a 50/50 chance, roughly, depending how exhausted I am from work and other things. Seroquel for me in these very small doses has had a highly positive effect on my body, brain and my attitude + demeanor.

    No side effects either, not yet anyhow, LOL! I haven’t been on it long, 3 months. Now I tell you that because since day one starting, to the the day I’m typing this, I haven’t needed more of the drug to feel the same effects. Actually I have been cutting my pills up smaller and smaller and it still has an amazing ability to put me to sleep in about, 8-15 minutes, no more, no less.

    I’m 35 years old and have had issues with extreme insomnia due to an accident I had in 2004, in which I incurred a TBI from a 3 story fall directly on my head into rocks, resulting in a massive concussion to my forehead. Anyway, in addition to the insomnia afterwards, I began to have gran mal seizures out of nowhere – which were back to back several at a time and became so dangerous that I was hospitalized several times, not fun experiences!

    I still have seizures, but it took several years for me to put together that insomnia (sleep deprivation) and seizure disorder don’t make for happy bed fellows. If you can’t sleep and no matter what kind of seizure disorder you have, a no sleep or very broken sleep pattern will cause more frequent and back to back seizures that can kill you, it can! My insomnia was bad, very bad, I would stay awake for weeks at a time, no sleep, doc told me that’s impossible, well, trust me, it’s possible.

    I have the seizures under control to an extent because of Liquid Kepra, clonazepam, and gabapentin, which is not a great anticonvulsant, but I have extreme neuropathy issues and regular pain to and it works wonders for that and RLS. Side note: I refuse to take narcotics, just in case you’re wondering, they will cause insomnia after awhile also, plus the fog they create in your head is just awful!

    So, the clonazepam is for my anxiety disorder and also works like an anticonvulsant. Liquid Kepra is for the specific control of the seizures, I’ve tried everything and this is the only drug that works for me, my body doesn’t like most drugs prescribed to me, so it takes time to find the one that will. The first time I took Seroquel, I couldn’t believe that a drug could put you to sleep so quick, sleep uninterrupted all night, 2-10 hours depending on who you are and you could wake up on time and not feel trashed, but feel very rested and alert within under 5 minutes, no joke, this is seriously the truth.

    It’s still working exactly the same as it did on day one, no change. One thing I noticed for myself taking it is, I don’t get REM sleep anymore, I don’t dream anymore, when I do, rarely, it’s short and is of not hardly of any substance to it, almost like for one second I dreamed about a faceless human and that’s the end. But I used to enjoy my dreams on occasion when I slept good as a kid, but even then, 90% of my dreams were scary, so even then, couldn’t count on sleeping good.

    Noticed too, that at this dosage, you need at least 2-3 hours minimum and 6-8 hours maximum to wake up and be ok, any less, the drug is still affecting you awake, sleep longer and I tend to get a lazy, “stay in bed feeling” that doesn’t want to go away for a bit. So balance and routine are key I guess. More background on me for reference: I have had minor mental issues all my life, the accident just increased the problem.

    I was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder, really bad, very young in life, after that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I’m still debating that I have that, it doesn’t fit really, but the docs all agreed, so who knows. I’ve taken every med for bipolar disorder and every one of them made me suicidal within the first month, almost Baker Acted 3 times, just cause of the meds, ridiculous!

    But Seroquel is for bipolar disorder too, so the doctor didn’t mind giving it to me for insomnia problems also, but we talked about it 3 times before he did prescribe it though. I did research for 3 months on this stuff before I decided to take it, ya know, risk vs. reward thing. But, seriously, if you want to take this drug, make sure you legitimately need it, exhaust all other options for sleep and insomnia issues.

    Cause when you start this stuff, you’re saying either “I need it for a short amount of time, then stop taking it in order to not have withdrawal symptoms” or you’re saying “I’m going to be taking this for the rest of my life, period.” There’s no middle ground with this stuff, that I know of. I know that I will take Seroquel for the rest of my life just cause not sleeping is so dangerous for me and just not worth the trouble, I just might as well take it.

    I also was diagnosed with Type 2 ADHD, a little while back, but the Seroquel works good for that too, it helps with levelness through the day, feel more balanced. I also am prescribed propranolol 160mg ER capsule for tremors that I have when the anxiety is out of control, which is most of the time. I don’t take my stimulant on a regular basis for my ADHD, just when I need it the most, that’s it.

    All these meds working together right now over the years, then with the Seroquel added 3 months ago, for the first time in over 20 years, I feel better. I was never able to say that before, so I hope it stays this way for awhile! That’s what I know about Seroquel in small doses for insomnia, for larger doses, like 200-600mg a day, that’s for therapeutic use for persons with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

    If you don’t have that, then you should never be on that large of a dose, even for insomnia! It’s a pharmaceutical that should be treated with respect, very serious drug here. Well, thank you for reading this, maybe somebody will get helped a smidge by this and make a good decision either way!

  • Blackcat June 20, 2016, 2:11 pm

    My psychiatrist has recommended a return to Seroquel at 25mg per night. I last used Seroquel 5 years ago. When my anxiety calmed down I was able to wean myself off it. This time it’s circumstances in my life again so hopefully I will only need it for a month. I still take Venlafaxine and Cymbalta at low doses in the morning plus Mirtazapine at night for depression. This is a very unusual combination but works for me (trial and error proves this). I believe Seroquel now comes in a generic form so it will be interesting to see if it is as good as the original. :-)

  • Misdiagnosed July 14, 2016, 7:32 pm

    I can’t even leave my real name because of what I am about to say. I always was a good sleeper all my life. Even if I had to get up to pee, I was able to get back to sleep right away and felt rested in the morning. However, around August 2011 I had sudden onset insomnia. I am still at a loss as to the cause since there were so many factors involved.

    It began with getting only 3-1/2 hours of sleep per night but then worsened. Many nights I didn’t sleep at all, or slept only one hour, usually not really sleeping, but dozing only. By that I mean I was conscious of what was happening around me at all times, but not awake. I’d lie down and be in a foggy, hypnotic state for one or two hours each night, and not sleep at all.

    So that was my life for five years. There was no improvement but much wishful thinking as I tried many cures. I tried everything my doctor suggested such as Ambien, which did nothing, melatonin, which also did nothing. Changing my “sleep hygiene” did nothing as this was not the problem. I didn’t have restless legs. I wasn’t worrying all night, nor did I have nightmares, nor was I “unable to turn my mind off.”

    Nor was I anxious at night. I tried trauma therapy anyway but that didn’t improve my sleep. I also tried eliminating blue light in the evening, and dietary changes. I tried taking vitamins. I had resigned to a life of non-functioning, living in a zombie-like state, not being able to concentrate during the day to get my work done, constantly so exhausted I could barely stand up, unable to hold down a job, unable to get along with other people since I had developed a short fuse due to constantly being exhausted.

    I forgot things, lost things, got lost while walking around, lost track of my belongings, my stuff broke due to inability to care for it, I felt like totally giving up. Some thought I had the beginnings of dementia or maybe a mental disorder but I knew I didn’t. I knew I would die of organ failure if this kept up, too, since you need sleep to live. Plus my friends and family had given up on me.

    I didn’t want to go to any more doctors. I didn’t want to see a psychiatrist since I didn’t want a mental diagnosis on record. Having a psych diagnosis on record means more bigotry and further unemployment for me. So I got Seroquel off the street. I take a tiny dose, that’s all I want and all I need… about 6mg. I know that taking a high dose can lead to bad side effects, so I am wary of taking over 25.

    I actually sleep now. My whole life is different. I really sleep at night and feel rested in the morning. I no longer have that horrible short fuse I had due to torturous fatigue. I look brighter and happier. My smile looks better. I even have a love life now, and am applying for work. I can stay up all day long without falling over in total fatigue and misery. At night I sleep about five hours now! Wow! I never thought that would happen.

    You HAVE to sleep. All those years I couldn’t get a doctor to believe how bad it was! They were stupid idiots to tell me I was making it all up. That’s why I won’t give them a dime. I won’t book an appointment, nor walk around harmed by their diagnoses, either.

    • Liz September 11, 2016, 3:19 am

      I am so happy to hear your story! I did have to go to a psychiatrist but I was desperate after having tried all the things you described. I totally agree that they should come up with some real evidence that this drug at low dosage causes permanent damage because it was a lifesaver for me and I am forever grateful to the doctor that prescribed it. Yes, I am much fatter and one of these days I will get the extra 10lbs off!

  • Joseph July 25, 2016, 2:15 am

    I’ve been on seroquel for insomnia for almost 7 years now. I also am diagnosed with bipolar. With that out of the way, I will talk solely on seroquel as a sleep aid. I started off with a dose of 50mg, which initially knocked me into another world. I actually would compare the feeling to being extremely intoxicated with the strongest urge you have ever felt for the munchies.

    So in the beginning it was actually very relaxing knowing no matter what I did, if I took it at a certain time I would be guaranteed sleep. It gave me a sense of comfort knowing my knockout drug was gonna get me to sleep. After a few years, I felt like it wasn’t as potent as it once was and we went up to 75mg. It worked, and it worked well.

    Fast forward to 4 years in and my fiancé and I had a baby, which kinda scared me because seroquel without a shadow of a doubt lingers into the morning and afternoon making you feel hungover, and extremely tired. So my shrink dropped me back to 50mg. The next three years I battled major weight gain. When I started seroquel I was a fit, going to the gym 5 days a week guy sitting at 170 pounds to a 250 pounds today.

    So yes, if you want to gain weight, take seroquel you’ll balloon up in no time. Just this year I said I had had enough, I wanted off. So we lower to 25mg and I take that for two months, I try tapering down and forget it! You want to talk about side effects, well going to sleep without seroquel after 7 years just isn’t gonna happen. I am completely dependent on it to sleep and I do not foresee that ever changing.

    So IMO if all you ever craved in life is sleep this is the drug to do it. That’s the only positive, it will knock you on your a**.

    Negatives (for me): Excessive weight gain; Groggy cloudy mornings, last 3 hours; Extreme lethargy throughout the day; I feel as if I cannot think as fast, I play a lot of video games competitively and I just cannot focus at all anymore; Shakes – I’m also a photographer and I shake so much in my hands it’s very hard to get my hands to stay put.

    As an insomniac who enjoyed staying up to the morning hours you can push this drug past the initial drowsy state into a very dangerous what I would call drunk, trashed, wobbly, running into walls, furniture, spilling drinks all over yourself with never noticing state that luckily I personally haven’t injured myself in yet. You will have a thirst for something cold mixed with something salty that begs at you to quench.

    You will over drink and eat in this drunken state which is also dangerous as you could fall asleep at any moment. There’s so much more I could share but that’s all I have for now.

  • Ivan July 28, 2016, 12:18 pm

    I have been taking Seroquel 25 mg for several years. I have mild depression so my psychiatrist prescribed it combined with Zoloft 25 mg. Seroquel has been a very good sleep aid to me as I also have BHP, so I get up frequently at night to go to the bathroom and it is difficult for me to go back to sleep. If I don’t take it my insomnia will come back slowly after a few days. No gain weight has been a plus for me too.

  • Dr. John August 15, 2016, 7:36 am

    Quetiapine 25 or 12.5 mg at bedtime – my godsend too. No hangover, gentle sleep induction, ease of wake-ability, no weight gain, and no tolerance after many months of use!

  • David August 16, 2016, 3:17 pm

    Z-drugs can be pretty damaging. They can cause depression and anxiety, fatal accidents and serious injury due to sleepwalking, driving accidents etc and have been linked to dementia and cancer, and they affect sleep architecture. They also pose a much higher risk of addiction and tolerance, so not sure they are better than quetiapine. I have found a low dose of quetiapine (25 to 50mg) perfect for sleep. I alternate with trazodone to avoid any tolerance and sleep really well. Of course, would prefer not using either if possible.

  • Leonora August 18, 2016, 7:22 am

    I take 4mg – the perfect dose for me (I divide a 25mg tablet into 6) – approximately 120 to 90 minutes before I want to sleep and I get 7 hours sleep every night. I wake up naturally. It’s been amazing. No side effects. No weight gain and I still exercise every day – it’s had no impact in my motivation to exercise.

    If I take more than 4mg (I used to take 6mg and this was too much) and if I take it just before bed rather than 120 to 90 minutes before I want to fall asleep I will feel groggy in the morning. I’ve always had sleep latency issues. It could take me 2-3 hours to fall asleep but once I’m asleep I have no problem staying asleep. This very low dose of quetiapine has been fantastic. I now know exactly when I’m going to fall asleep.

    • Liz September 11, 2016, 3:23 am

      Wow! The pills are so tiny I didn’t think it was worth trying to split them that is impressive now I will try. Thanks!

  • Kathy August 21, 2016, 2:30 am

    I’ve been taking Seroquel for years. Otherwise I would not sleep. Love it. I’m at 100mg and I sleep for 8-9 hours. Quality sleep. I have a great Dr with good reputation and it is what he put me on right away for Bi-polar 2 (very mild) years ago. Yes it does make you very hungry (ok… you’re going to bed, don’t eat!) I put up with hunger pangs until I fall asleep.

    Yes I’m a bit groggy in the morning… I have my healthy supplements (zip fizz) and I work out in the morning to overcome brain fog. I’ve been on it for about 18years. I read, I’m still intelligent… (in regards to brain shrinkage). I would prefer not taking such a potent drug but it’s the only thing that makes me sleep and I have a very good quality of life!

  • CJ August 22, 2016, 7:31 am

    When I lost both parents my ability to sleep became an issue, I started taking 25 mg generic Seroquel. I have been on it for 3 years. If I forget it one night, I cannot sleep very well at all, maybe 3 hours. I sleep 6 to 9 hours at night. If I take it in 25 mg coated pill, I get headaches. So I have 50 mg prescribed, with no coating and cut them in half. No weight gain, but motivation to work out has diminished. I’m 59, female and living in a New state. It works tremendously well, but I worry about this research of brain volume loss.

  • Dani August 23, 2016, 8:41 am

    The first time I tried seroquel was in 2009. I was diagnosed with panic disorder, and was put on cipralex (an anti-depressant). They put me on 20mg which was WAY too high and resulted in an extreme bout of insomnia (I didn’t sleep for 6 whole days, not joking). They gave me every kind of sleeping pill but none of them worked. Then I tried seroquel; 50mg of it knocked me out for 8 hours.

    When I woke up, I wanted to cry because of how happy I was for finally being able to sleep. This drug will put even the most extreme insomniacs to sleep. I stopped cipralex and continued using seroquel for sleep for about 3 months. The side-effects were minimal. The main one I noticed was that my thinking slowed down a lot. I also noticed muscle twitches. Other than that, no problems.

    I slowly lowered my dose and successfully weaned myself off of it. I didn’t experience any withdrawal side-effects except crappy sleep for about a week. I don’t know what this drug does long-term, but it was extremely helpful to me during the short time I needed it. I am skeptical about some of the stuff I’ve read online about it being dangerous because it hasn’t been tested as a sleep aid.

    I think the root for a lot of the criticism directed at seroquel is coming from sleeping pill companies who are losing profits. Think about it! Seroquel is dirt cheap and it works better than any sleeping pill. It’s used at much higher doses for people with certain psych disorders, yet no one is criticizing that.

    Seems very odd to me. If you’re thinking about taking this drug, read as many reviews on forums as possible. Try to get in touch with people who have used this drug. I personally know a few people who have taken it for sleep as well and i’ve never heard anything negative (except slight weight gain of course).

  • Pliny August 31, 2016, 2:43 am

    I have been taking Seroquel 50 for over two and half years and am worried I am dependent on it. It was prescribed in hospital for insomnia after it was decided I should not be taking Luvox with diazepam (which I only took once in a while) nor xanax (again only took once in a while) and my meds were reviewed completely. It worked wonders at first and I had the best sleep ever; however when I tried to cut down on seroquel some months ago, sleep evaded me more than ever before.

    I am awake all night when I opt not to take it. And when I do take it now I have brain fog for the whole of the next day and am exhausted. I am worried this drug has had some serious effect on my brain long term and I do not know what to do for the best anymore. Sleep has become a worse issue than ever before. I feel I have been left somewhat on my own by the team that prescribed it.

  • Sarah Wildermoth September 10, 2016, 9:59 am

    After trying many other sleep meds for years seroquel has been the only effective one. I have had insomnia for 8 years I have been on Seroquel for a year now starting on 25mg then moving up to 75mg. However recently I have found them to be less effective and have thought about putting the dose up again. I have periods of needing to be on higher doses then I drop them down again so Im hoping if I go higher than 75mg I can drop the dose down again after a few weeks.

  • Liz September 11, 2016, 3:11 am

    I have been taking 25mg of seroquel for a couple of years now. I call it my wonder drug; finally I sleep decently most night. Yes, I am addicted because if I try going one night without it I am awake from 3am do not get more than 2-3 hours of sleep without seroquel. I tried ever other drug on the market even went as far as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, you name I tried.

    Spent 10 years on klonopin with increasing problems and terrible with drawl. Ambien Xanax produced terrible side effects without improving insomnia. I am worried I will have to spend the rest of my life taking this drug especially now I read it reduces brain cells! I am 61 and suffer from GAD. I can cope with my illness as long as I can sleep. I have read every article there is on better sleep practices. I do go to yoga and try to eat healthy.

    I am sure the lack of sleep has terrible effects on the brain to. Has there been studies on people taking 25 mg for several years? I am appalled to read Ambien is a safer drug it has so severe side effects. I have gained over 10lbs and do snack at night but without this drug I think I would not be here today.

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