How Effective Is Amitriptyline for Insomnia?

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  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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Amitriptyline, also known by the brand name ElavilĀ®, 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.


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Post 4

Stay off this drug. It is a dreadful drug to take and has awful side effects and it is not 0easy to get off of it. I've had nightmares, breathing difficulties, rigid, painful stomach, distaste for tea and coffee, brain fog, aching muscles... I could go on. Please stay off it.

Post 3

No one medication works the same for two people. So naturally, amitriptyline will work for some people and will not work for others.

It worked for me, but I think it worked a little too well. Because when I woke up, I continued to feel drowsy, sleepy and confused for several hours. I tried dealing with it for a while and then decided that I would be better off on another insomnia medication.

I'm not holding this against amitriptyline though. The medication was not formulated of insomnia. It's anti-depressant and its use for insomnia is an off-label use.

Post 2

@burcinc-- I'm surprised to hear that. Amitriptyline is working great for me. It's like a sedative and it relaxes me before bedtime and helps me get sleep. I haven't had any of the side effects you mentioned either. I wonder if you needed a different dose?

Post 1

I heard a lot of people praise amitriptyline for insomnia and asked my doctor about it. He said that it might help and prescribed me a low dose to take before bed. I took the medication for three weeks without any results.

I have no idea why this medication is so favored for insomnia. I barely got any sleep on the drug, which is my usual self. Plus, I was extra tired and moody during the day.

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