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Does tramadol keep you awake? If you’ve ever experienced sleep problems while taking tramadol, it can be kind of confusing. After all, it is an opioid drug, so how could a potent painkiller and central nervous system (CNS) depressant disrupt your sleep? While most narcotics cause fatigue, sedation, and drowsiness (especially in high doses), people taking tramadol may find themselves falling asleep during the day instead of at night. So if you’re taking this medication and wondering, “does tramadol cause insomnia?” keep reading to learn what we discovered.
Also known by brand names like Ultram and ConZip, tramadol is a pain medication that’s part of the opioid drug class, specifically synthetic opioids. Synthetic opioids are man-made or synthesized in a lab and are designed to act on the same receptors and regions of the brain as natural opioids (morphine and codeine) to alleviate pain.
Like other opioids, tramadol is a controlled substance that can only be obtained with a prescription and comes as tablets, capsules, and liquid drops that you swallow. It’s commonly prescribed to treat chronic pain when weaker painkillers no longer work.
Due to its mechanism of action, however, this drug also has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Tramadol works by acting on pain receptors in the CNS.
Specifically, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, gut, and other areas of the body associated with pain and pleasure. When someone takes tramadol, it binds to these receptors to block pain signaling from the body, alleviating the person’s symptoms.
Not only does this interaction alleviate pain, but it also stimulates the release of dopamine in the CNS, producing sensations of euphoria and well-being. This sensation is often the reason why so many people start abusing their opioid medications by taking higher doses than directed or mixing them with other depressants like alcohol.
Other side effects of tramadol include sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, constipation, sedation, weight loss, and others. But what about using tramadol and insomnia - are they related?
Ironically, despite the sedation, fatigue, and sleepiness that opioids are known to produce, tramadol can cause insomnia. In one recent double-blind study on tramadol and sleeplessness, some participants were randomly given placebos one night and then given 50 mg or 100 mg of tramadol the second night.
Researchers discovered that 100 mg of tramadol significantly impaired rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) for two full nights.1 REM sleep is a phase of sleep characterized by the random rapid movement of the eyes and vivid dreams.
REM sleep is important to not only getting a full night’s rest but also to learning, making, and retaining memories. This phase of sleep tends to shorten as we get older, which may partly explain why memory problems tend to occur in the elderly.
The study also confirmed that when a participant was given 50 mg of tramadol, their sleep was interrupted that night. When they were given 100 mg of the medication, sleep was significantly impaired for two full nights.1
Additionally, it’s also important to note that opioids can make you sleepy, so taking them during the day may cause you to fall asleep. Sleeping more during the day often means you will sleep less at night.
Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of tramadol withdrawal. Similar to other drugs of its class, detoxing from tramadol can lead to sleeplessness as well as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cold sweats, muscle aches, and more.
Drug withdrawal commonly occurs in individuals who have developed a dependence on a drug, which is a significant danger when it comes to taking opioids. If you notice that the dosage of tramadol you’re taking is no longer providing pain relief, or if you find yourself having to use more of it to experience pain relief, speak to your doctor right away to avoid addiction.
Opioids are at the center of America’s current drug epidemic. Millions of people have been affected by opioid abuse and addiction, and our Banyan rehab in Gilman, Illinois, offers effective substance abuse treatment options to help these individuals find sobriety.
Banyan Treatment Centers offers opioid addiction treatment that incorporates medical detox and therapy to help people addicted to drugs like tramadol recover physically, mentally, and socially. Opioid detox is an especially vital step in the recovery process, as it allows our team to provide patients with 24-hour care and medication, as needed, to alleviate withdrawal symptoms like sleeplessness.
To learn more about our inpatient substance abuse treatment in Illinois and how we can help you get and stay sober, call Banyan Heartland today at 888-280-4763.