Amitriptyline, also known by the brand name Elavil®, is a prescription drug that is sometimes used to treat depression. A doctor also may prescribe amitriptyline for insomnia. It can be a very effective medication for chronic insomnia sufferers when used in the correct, doctor-prescribed dosage. This medication was not designed to be a sleeping pill, but its non-addictive nature and qualities that can help a patient to relax and stay asleep lead many medical professionals to suggest this medication to patients.
Each patient's needs may be different when it comes to using amitriptyline for insomnia. The dosage needed when used for insomnia is much less than that prescribed to a severely depressed patient. A person suffering from depression typically will be prescribed 50 mg or more of this drug. Insomnia patients may only need from 10 mg to 40 mg. Doctors normally start patients out on a very low dose of amitriptyline and will increase the dosage each week, if needed.
There are potential side effects that make some patients hesitant to use amitriptyline for insomnia. One common complaint involves unwanted weight gain. Dry mouth and constipation are two other side effects that many people may experience. Amitriptyline impacts all patients differently, so people will not know if the medicine is right for their sleeping needs until they try it. A patient who starts using this medication and wants to stop should contact his or her doctor to be properly weaned instead of quitting abruptly.
It can be dangerous for people who like long exposures to natural or artificial sunlight to take amitriptyline for insomnia. Using a tanning bed or spending hours on the beach is not recommended for people taking this drug. Patients who spend a lot of time in the sun and are not willing to make lifestyle changes should be honest with their doctors and discuss an alternative form of insomnia treatment.
There are some rare cases of patients who actually suffer from insomnia as a result of amitriptyline. A patient who notices his or her sleeping habits getting worse after beginning use of this drug should notify his or her prescribing doctor as soon as possible. A common complaint of some other patients is that amitriptyline works too well for sleep, making patients groggy and unable to get up for work in the morning. This may indicate that a lower dose is needed.