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The benzodiazepine clonazepam is an anti-anxiety medication that works to prevent the kind of excessive brain activity that can lead to anxiety, panic, and stress. It does this by boosting the results of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the neurotransmitter that slows down brain activity. Slowed brain activity, coupled with side effects like sedation, help make taking clonazepam for insomnia effective. Unfortunately, some people experience sleeplessness and sleep disturbances while taking clonazepam and therefore find it ineffective. Patients who experience adverse side effects, or side effects opposite what they and their doctors hoped to achieve, should contact their doctors as soon as possible.
Sedation is one of the most common side effects of clonazepam, thus making taking the drug for insomnia an effective treatment for many patients. The drowsiness and sleepiness that accompanies feelings of sedation, paired with the enhanced effects of GABA, help many patients fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer than usual. Note that some of the sedation-related side effects, such as dizziness, disorientation, and weakness, can be dangerous, especially if the patient takes the medication outside the home or while trying to complete any other kind of task.
Although sedation, drowsiness, and sleepiness are all common side effects of clonazepam, for some people, sleep disturbance is a side effect of the drug. Such sleep disturbances may be occasional or ongoing, although sometimes these disturbances go away after the patient uses clonazepam for a certain amount of time. Sleep disturbances while taking clonazepam can include the inability to fall asleep or waking after only a few hours, and some patients report waking due to vivid dreams or nightmares. Obviously, clonazepam for insomnia is not effective for people who experience ongoing sleep disturbances while taking the medicine. These patients should talk with their doctor about an alternative treatment.
Note that additional side effects a patient experiences while taking clonazepam for insomnia might require a doctor’s attention. For example, if the patient experiences difficulty breathing or swallowing, or develops rash, hives, or other sorts of skin irritations, he should seek medical attention. The same is true for any facial swelling, including the tongue and throat.
Insomnia is a serious problem that can quickly lead to other health problems. If the doctor decides clonazepam for the patient's insomnia is not the best course of action, he most likely will talk with the patient about alternative insomnia treatments. Before stopping the drug, the patient should make sure to talk with his doctor about any clonazepam withdrawal symptoms he may experience.