Ask The Doctor > Questions & Answers > Waking up in the middle of the night – too

Waking up in the middle of the night – too

Patient: I have problems staying asleep at night. This is mostly due to work anxiety. I fall asleep just fine around 10:30pm but wake up like clockwork between 12-2am and stay awake until my alarm goes off at 6am.Last night, I tried taking a benadryl at 9:30pm and ended up waking up at 1:30 and not going back to sleep.My question is – can I take 1/2 of a 5mg ambien when I wake up in the middle of the night and not be a zombie the next day? Will it help me go back to sleep?



Symptoms: No sleep



Doctor: Thank you for writing to Ask The Doctor.I can understand your concerns.There are a few causes of insomnia.Re cent big change in lifeDisturbance while sleepingCertain medication like Benadryl that can affect sleep cycleJet lagHere are a few things you can try:Avoid any disturbances from affecting your sleep. Close the curtains, don’t allow sounds to get in and keep the door closed.Avoid a big meal just before sleepingAvoid drinking coffee or alcohol just before you are about to sleepFollow a routine and try to sleep at the same time and do the same thing before sleeping (read a book)Exercise 3 to 4 times weeklyMedication like ambien can help in sleeping problems but it is a potent medication and should be taken after seeing a doctor.I hope this has answered your query. Please follow up if you have more questions.

Comments / Follow Ups

Patient: I spoke with a doctor and got an RX. I woke up in the middle of the night the first time I had tried it so I’m afraid to take it again. I figure if I take it in the middle of the night, it’ll help me get back to sleep.

Doctor: Thank you for the follow up.
The medication has several side effects. It is not always a good idea to double the dose.
I recommend that you try the other things that I mentioned above to see if they help you.
Also, it seems that you wake up exactly after one sleep cycle of 2 hours and it is possible that something happens during this time that is causing you to wake up.
Try to determine what that is and see if you can avoid it.

Patient: I’m not doubling the dose, I’m halfing it. This is not worth $20

Doctor: Oh ok. I thought that you wanted to take the tablet before going to sleep and once again when you got up.
I don’t think you had given the dose you normally take. What you want to do sounds alright. If you are able to sleep without the medication, then it is alright to take half a pill when you wake up.
Do let me know if you get any other sleep disturbances.


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Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

Dr. Suneel Sharman completed his residency in Family Medicine at the University of Toronto. He currently operates Infinity Health Centre, a walk-in-clinic in downtown Toronto.

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