Zopiclone belongs to the class of medications called sedative-hypnotics. It is used for the short-term and symptomatic relief of sleep disturbances. Zopiclone can help with difficulty falling asleep, frequent wake-ups during the night, or early morning awakenings. Zopiclone should usually not be taken for more than 7 to 10 consecutive days. It should be used only by people for whom disturbed sleep results in problems functioning during the day.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Zopiclone tablets are sleeping pills (hypnotics) which work by acting on the brain to cause sleepiness.
They may be used for short term treatment of difficulties in falling asleep, waking up at night or early in the morning or difficulty in sleeping caused by events, situations or mental illness, which is severe, disabling or causing great distress.
Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about zopiclone and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
It is usual to be prescribed one tablet (7.5 mg) to be taken just before going to bed. Do not take more than one dose during a single night. If you are over 65 years of age, your doctor may consider the 3.75 mg strength tablets more suitable for you.
Take zopiclone exactly as your doctor tells you to. You could be advised to take a tablet on only two or three nights per week, rather than on every night.
You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
- Common zopiclone side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people):
- Feeling sleepy or tired - do not drive or use tools or machines until your reactions have returned to normal
- A bitter or metallic aftertaste, dry mouth - chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets can help
Some people taking medicines like zopiclone have done things while they are asleep that they do not remember when they wake up, such as sleepwalking, sleep-driving and having sex. If this happens to you, discuss it with your doctor. If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
Do not take Zopiclone tablets and tell your doctor if you:
- are allergic (hypersensitive) to zopiclone or any of the other ingredients in the tablet. An allergic reaction may include a rash, itching, difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, lips, throat or tongue.
- have severe liver problems
- suffer from breathing problems whilst sleeping (Sleep Apnoea Syndrome)
- suffer from severe muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis)
- have severe breathing problems
- these tablets are not recommended for use in children.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking Zopiclone tablets if you:
- have any kidney or liver problems.
- have a history of mental illness
- have or have ever had a history of or tendency to alcohol or drug abuse or personality disorders. The risk of dependence to Zopiclone tablets (physical or mental effects produced by a compulsion to keep taking the medicine) increases in these patients, and with dose and length of treatment.
Please tell your doctor if you have any of the conditions listed above.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicine including medicines obtained without a prescription. Zopiclone tablets may influence the effect and/or side effects of other medicines. If you see another doctor or go into hospital, particularly if you are having an operation under anaesthesia, tell the doctor which medicines you use.
The following medicines may increase the sedating effect of Zopiclone tablets:
- medicines to treat mental illness (antipsychotics)
- medicines to treat depression
- other sleeping pills
- medicines to treat anxiety and other tranquillizers
- narcotics (strong pain killers) e.g. codeine, morphine
- medicines used to treat epilepsy
- anaesthetics (used during surgery)
- antihistamine medicines which cause sleepiness
- medicines inhibiting liver enzymes e.g. cimetidine, allopurinol, propranolol. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which medicines have this effect.
- erythromycin ( an antibiotic to treat infections).
Taking Zopiclone with alcohol:
Alcohol should not be consumed when taking Zopiclone tablets, as the sedating effect may be increased.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding:
Zopiclone tablets should not be taken during pregnancy. If for urgent medical reasons, Zopiclone tablets are taken during late pregnancy or during labour the baby may have low body temperature or breathing difficulties and show withdrawal symptoms after birth because of physical dependence. If you are planning to become pregnant or suspect you may already be pregnant, do not take Zopiclone tablets and contact your doctor as soon as possible for advice. Zopiclone will appear in breast milk in small amounts, therefore breast-feeding mothers should not take this medicine.
Driving and using machines:
Zopiclone tablets may affect your ability to drive or operate machinery. Make sure you are not affected before driving or operating machinery, especially if taken with alcohol.
If you forget to take a tablet, take one as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time to take the next one. Never take two doses together. Take the remaining doses at the correct time.
Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.