Zopiclone is a type of sleeping pill that can be taken to treat bad bouts of insomnia. It helps you fall asleep more quickly, and also helps stop you waking up during the night.
Zopiclone comes as tablets. It also comes as a liquid for people who find it hard to swallow tablets, but this has to be ordered specially by your doctor.
This medicine is only available on prescription.
- Zopiclone takes around 1 hour to work.
- Zopiclone is usually prescribed for just 2 to 4 weeks. This is because your body gets used to it quickly, and after this time it's unlikely to have the same effect. Your body can also become dependent on it.
- Common side effects are a metallic taste in your mouth, a dry mouth, and daytime sleepiness.
- Don't drink alcohol while you're on zopiclone. Having them together can make you go into a deep sleep where you find it difficult to wake up.
- Zopiclone is also called by the brand name Zimovane.
Who can and can't take zopiclone
Zopiclone can be taken by adults over the age of 18.
Zopiclone isn't suitable for some people.
To make sure zopiclone is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to zopiclone or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- have myasthenia gravis, an illness that causes severe muscle wasting
- have breathing problems or sleep apnoea (where you stop breathing for short bouts while sleeping)
- have had mental health problems
- have had issues with alcoholism or drug abuse
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding
How and when to take
Zopiclone tablets come in 2 different strengths – 3.5mg and 7.5mg.
The usual dose is to take a 7.5mg tablet just before you go to bed. It takes around 1 hour to work.
A lower dose of 3.5mg may be recommended to begin with if you're over 65 years old or have kidney or liver problems. Taking a lower dose in these cases reduces the risk of excessive sleepiness and other side effects.
Swallow the tablet whole. Don't crush or chew it. You can take zopiclone with or without food.
It's important to take it exactly as your doctor has told you. You could be asked to take a tablet on only 2 or 3 nights each week, rather than every night.
What if I forget to take it?
If you forget to take it by bedtime, just start again the next night.
Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.
What if I take too much?
If you need to go to hospital, take the box or leaflet inside the packet plus any remaining medicine with you.
It's a good idea to get a friend or family member to go with you to hospital in case you become sleepy on the way. Don't drive yourself.
Not everyone will get side effects with zopiclone.
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don’t go away:
- a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth
- a dry mouth
- daytime sleepiness
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare, and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you:
- lose your memory (amnesia)
- see or hear things that aren't real (hallucinations)
- fall over (especially in the elderly)
- think things that aren't true (delusions)
- feel low or sad (depressed mood)
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it’s possible to have a serious allergic reaction to zopiclone.
A serious allergic reaction is an emergency. Contact a doctor straight away if you think you or someone around you is having a serious allergic reaction.
The warning signs of a serious allergic reaction are:
- getting a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- tightness in the chest or throat
- having trouble breathing or talking
- unusual hoarseness
- swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
These are not all the side effects of zopiclone. For a full list see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- a dry mouth – try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets
- a metallic taste in the mouth – try chewing sugar-free gum
- feeling sleepy or tired – don't drive or use tools or machinery if you're feeling this way. Don't drink any alcohol as this will make you feel more tired.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Don't take zopiclone if you're pregnant, as it may harm the developing baby. It can also cause side effects in newborn babies.
There's some evidence that taking zopiclone can increase your risk of having a baby born early (before 37 weeks) and the baby having a lower birth weight. Taking zopiclone right up to labour may increase the chance of the baby having withdrawal symptoms at birth.
Zopiclone and breastfeeding
Zopiclone passes into breast milk in small amounts. If you have to take zopiclone, talk to your doctor or midwife about your feeding options.
Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and zopiclone can interfere with each other and increase the chances of you having side effects.
The following medicines may increase the sedating effects of zopiclone:
- medicines to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
- medicines to treat depression
- medicines for epilepsy
- medicines used in surgery (anaesthetics)
- medicines to calm or reduce anxiety, or for sleep problems
- medicines for hay fever, rashes, or other allergies that can make you sleepy (sedative antihistamines, such as chlorphenamine or promethazine)
- strong painkillers (such as codeine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, pethidine, or tramadol)
- erythromycin or clarithromycin (antibiotics used to treat infections)
- some medicines used to treat fungal infections (such as ketoconazole and itraconazole)
- Ritonavir (a medicine used to treat HIV infections)
Mixing zopiclone with herbal remedies and supplements
How does zopiclone work?
How long will it take to work?
Will I sleepwalk with zopiclone?
How long will I take it for?
Will I get withdrawal symptoms when I stop taking it?
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Will it affect my fertility?
Will it affect my contraception?
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Can I get addicted to zopiclone?
Can I drink alcohol with it?
How long will it stay in my system?
Will recreational drugs affect it?
Can lifestyle changes help insomnia?