Insomnia or sleep deprivation is not just limited to the United States but is currently a global issue affecting millions worldwide. Studies have shown that as many as 1 in every five adults in the USA struggle to fall asleep every night, with more than 1/3rd of adults having sleep problems weekly. People aged 35-44 are most affected by sleep issues, with 18-24-year-olds on the list of sleep-deprived groups.
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Apart from The States, Japan, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand are other countries where sleep disorders are gradually increasing in incidence. Mental health problems like stress, anxiety, and depression are some of the significant triggers behind sleep disturbances. In contrast, medical conditions, socioeconomic factors, age, and chronic health conditions are substantial factors triggering mental health problems and precipitating sleep disturbances.
Once apparent, it can lead to impaired work performance, work-related accidents, motor accidents, increased stress levels, and an overall negative impact on the individual’s quality of life. In such conditions, medications like benzodiazepines, antihistamines, antidepressants, and melatonin receptor agonists are practical options that enable the individual to improve sleep quality and, in close relation to it, their overall productivity.
But with the use of hypnotics come the dangers of misuse, overuse, or addiction risks that can lead to worse outcomes than untreated disturbed sleep. Benzodiazepines especially have come to the limelight after a recent study that stated 12.5% of adults in the USA use benzos, of which 2.1% misuse them for experimental and recreational purposes.
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Zopiclone is one such benzo that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years as a safe and strong sedative with being in the limelight equally for its increasing abuse reports. Introduced in 1986 by Rhone Poulenc S A, Zopiclone is popular because of its additional anxiolytic and sedative properties with the use of the medication resulting in a reduction in the time taken to fall asleep with undisturbed sleep. Clinical trials for Zopiclone 7.5mg UK have found no evidence for significant rebound insomnia with a low risk of withdrawal reactions on using it. Additionally, Zopiclone patients have reported being less impacted by daytime sedation effects compared to other medications like short-acting benzos like Triazolam and Midazolam.
But the medication is effective only when used for a short-term period and not exceeded beyond four weeks. The real problem lies in the misuse of Zopiclone in the form of overuse and its use with other sedatives that poses serious risks. Zolpidem and Zopiclone presented the same dependence risk among the Z-class of benzos. Still, Zopiclone was most involved in overdose adverse drug reactions, with its mention in several abuse histories.
Several contraindications involved with using Zopiclone are essential for the user’s safety, and avoiding alcohol is one of the most important ones on the list. No amount of Zopiclone should be mixed with alcohol or any alcoholic beverage consumed while consuming Zopiclone actively. Alcohol is a sedative by nature that, while acting as a short-term stimulant, can make you tired and lethargic. The American Sleep Apnea Association has observed Zopiclone and other benzos to mimic a neurotransmitter with sleep-inducing effects in the brain cells to carry out their sleep-inducing properties. People using Zopiclone assume their sleepiness is natural, whereas it is because the medication mimics sedative properties.
While exerting its sleep-inducing mechanisms, Zopiclone increases the skin-surface pressure of carbon dioxide ( ptcCO2) along with the oxygen saturation levels, leading to a slower heart rate with a slower heartbeat. Alcohol produces similar effects on the heart rate and breathing patterns of patients with the added risk of atrial fibrillation, a condition making your heart beat very fast and out of rhythm. Combining alcohol usage with a compound with similar sedative effects like Zopiclone can lead to oversedation effects, with the excessive falling of the respiratory levels proving life-threatening.
Mixing even one 7.5mg Zopiclone with alcohol can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, impaired judgment, and problems concentrating. Some patients have even reported memory loss with sleepwalking of increased severity. Alcohol use disorder is a severe problem, and benzodiazepines are often advised for patients undergoing detox programs experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms of a variable degree. But they cannot/ should not be used simultaneously, even in limited quantities.
The common misconception insomniacs have regarding the sedative properties of alcohol and the belief that it can help you fall asleep quickly. Drinking while providing temporary respite causes sleep disruptions in the sleep cycles while giving rise to daytime sleepiness while using it. Drinking to fall asleep gradually increases your tolerance levels to alcohol, and in due course, it becomes a habit. A 2018 study comparing sleep quality in adults consuming different amounts of alcohol has found that :
- Low amounts of alcohol decrease sleep quality by 9.3%
- Moderate amounts of alcohol decrease sleep quality by 24 %
- High amounts of alcohol decrease sleep quality by 39.2 %
Using alcohol will ultimately contribute to your insomnia instead of helping you deal with it. Research has shown that people drinking large amounts of alcohol before bed can suffer from delayed sleep onset with disrupted sleep and an overall reduction in sleep quality. Benzodiazepines like Zopiclone can improve your sleep conditions, but they are short-term medications that cannot be used indefinitely. Most importantly, they cannot be mixed with alcohol or added sedatives and must be used judiciously.
Benzodiazepines play an important role in treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but Zopiclone has not yet been found to work in treating alcohol recovery. Using Z-drugs can deal with untreated insomnia that interferes with the effective treatment of alcoholism. Still, in this matter, Zolpidem, rather than Zopiclone, has been found to have increased efficacy.
The reinforcing properties of Zopiclone have been tested in patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal programs but without any substantial proof to back its effectiveness. Zopiclone can be regarded as an effective short-term treatment of insomnia. Still, it should not be used by alcoholics or as a remedy for treating the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholics. It would be best if you took the advice of your physician while using it to be safe from possible complications from overusing/ misusing it.