Drug and Alcohol

Trazodone for Sleep: Usage, Dosage, and Side Effects

Trazodone is a prescription medication used to treat mood and sleep disorders. Unfortunately, it's also addictive. Learn more about trazodone abuse.

Trazodone for Sleep: Usage, Dosage, and Side Effects

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

April 6, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Trazodone abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Trazodone is a prescription medication primarily used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. However, some individuals misuse the drug for its sedative effects or to get high.

The dangers of trazodone abuse include sedation, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination, and respiratory depression. In addition, individuals who misuse Trazodone are at risk of developing an addiction, which can lead to various negative consequences, including social, occupational, and health problems.

By the Numbers:

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information data, 20–25 million adults over 12 in the United States met the criteria for SPA (psychoactive substances) dependency in 2006. What is Trazodone?

What Is Trazodone?

The prescription drug trazodone is usually used for the treatment of depression. It belongs to a class of medications called serotonin modulators, which act by changing the concentrations of different substances in the brain, including serotonin. This drug comes in a range of strengths: 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, and 300mg.

Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and other bodily functions. It is a neurotransmitter. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. By increasing serotonin levels in the brain, Trazodone helps to relieve depression symptoms and other mood disorders.

Trazodone is also used off-label to treat other medical conditions, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and sleep disorders like insomnia. It is effective in treating insomnia because it can help promote drowsiness and improve the quality of sleep.

Trazodone is available in both immediate-release and extended-release formulations. Immediate-release trazodone is typically taken in divided doses throughout the day, while extended-release trazodone is taken once daily at bedtime. The extended-release formulation is often preferred for treating insomnia because it can help patients stay asleep throughout the night.

The dosage of trazodone varies depending on the individual patient and the condition being treated. It is essential to follow the prescribing healthcare professional's dosage instructions and take only what is prescribed.

Like all medications, Trazodone can cause side effects. The most common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, blurred vision, and constipation. Less common but more serious side effects include low blood pressure, seizures, and priapism (a painful and prolonged erection).

Trazodone can interact with other medications, including certain antidepressants, antihistamines, and opioids. It should not be taken with alcohol or other substances that can cause drowsiness, as this can increase the risk of side effects.

Trazodone for Sleep: What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard for people to fall and stay asleep. The term "insomnia" is something of a blanket term; there are many sleep disorders that could be described as insomnia. However, researchers generally class insomnia under two categories:

  • Primary insomnia: This form of insomnia is sleep difficulties without other physical or mental issues.

  • Secondary insomnia: This is a form of insomnia caused by other factors, including medical issues and mental disorders.

Insomnia is also divided into multiple subcategories:

  • Acute insomnia: This is a short-term form of insomnia caused by stress. It generally doesn't need treatment as it doesn't last long.

  • Chronic insomnia: If you have problems falling asleep at least three times a week over a three-month period, you may have chronic insomnia.

  • Comorbid insomnia: This is insomnia caused by a co-occurring condition, like physical pain or a mood disorder.

  • Maintenance insomnia: This form of insomnia is when a person wakes up during the night and finds it hard to go back to sleep.

  • Sleep onset insomnia: This insomnia involves difficulties going to sleep once you go to bed.

How Does Trazodone Work, and Does It Help You Sleep?

Trazodone is a medication that affects the levels of several neurotransmitters in the brain. It is classified as a serotonin modulator and reuptake inhibitor (SARI), which means that it modulates the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and affects the reuptake of this neurotransmitter by neurons.

The mechanism through which trazodone works on the brain is complex and involves several different pathways. One of the main ways that trazodone works are by inhibiting the serotonin reuptake by neurons. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep, and other bodily functions. By inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, Trazodone increases the levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

In addition to inhibiting serotonin reuptake, trazodone also acts as an antagonist at certain serotonin receptors, including the 5-HT2A receptor. Antagonism at this receptor is thought to contribute to Trazodone's sedative effects. By blocking the 5-HT2A receptor, Trazodone can help promote drowsiness and improve sleep quality.

Trazodone also affects the levels of other neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and norepinephrine. It has been found to increase the release of dopamine in certain brain regions, which may contribute to its ability to alleviate symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. Trazodone also affects norepinephrine levels, another neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, attention, and arousal.

Finally, trazodone has been found to affect certain ion channels in the brain, including potassium channels. By affecting the activity of these channels, Trazodone can modulate the activity of neurons and alter the release of neurotransmitters.

Thus, the mechanism through which trazodone works on the brain is complex and involves several different pathways. By affecting the levels of neurotransmitters and modulating the activity of neurons, Trazodone can alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, as well as promote drowsiness and improve the quality of sleep.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Would you like more information about trazodone? Reach out today.

What Are the Symptoms of Addiction to Trazodone?

Trazodone is not considered to be a highly addictive medication, but like any medication, it can be abused or used in a way that leads to addiction. A persistent pattern of use characterizes addiction to trazodone despite negative consequences, including physical, psychological, and social problems. Here are some common symptoms of addiction to trazodone:

Compulsive Use

Individuals who are addicted to trazodone may have difficulty controlling their use of the medication. They may feel an intense urge to take the drug, even when it is unnecessary or prescribed.


Over time, individuals addicted to trazodone may develop a tolerance to the drug. This means they need higher medication doses to achieve the same effects.

Seeking Multiple Prescriptions

Individuals addicted to trazodone may visit multiple doctors or pharmacies to obtain more of the medication than is prescribed.

Changes in Behavior

Addiction to trazodone can lead to changes in behavior, such as a decreased interest in activities that were once enjoyable, neglecting responsibilities, and engaging in dangerous behaviors.

Neglecting Personal Hygiene and Appearance

Individuals who are addicted to trazodone may begin to neglect their hygiene and appearance as their drug use becomes a priority.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences

Even when trazodone use is causing problems in a person's life, such as relationship difficulties or financial problems, they may continue to use the drug.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If a person addicted to trazodone tries to stop using the medication or reduces their dosage, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and gastrointestinal upset.

More About Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been taking trazodone for an extended period of time, it is possible that you may experience some withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing your dosage.

Common symptoms of trazodone withdrawal include anxiety, insomnia, agitation, and nausea. If these symptoms occur, it is important to contact your doctor immediately as they can help manage the withdrawal process safely.

Like many other drugs, trazodone should be tapered off. Tapering off means slowly decreasing the amount of trazodone taken each day. The goal is to stop taking trazodone entirely, which helps avoid withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Side Effects of Trazodone?

Trazodone is a medication used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. While it can be effective in treating these conditions, it can also cause various side effects. Some of the most common side effects of Trazodone include the following:

  • Dizziness: Trazodone can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting, especially when standing up quickly or getting out of bed.

  • Drowsiness: Trazodone is known to cause drowsiness, which can be beneficial for those who have difficulty falling or staying asleep but may also be a side effect for those taking the medication during the day.

  • Dry mouth: Trazodone can cause dry mouth, leading to difficulty swallowing, bad breath, and other oral health issues.

  • Nausea and vomiting: Trazodone can cause nausea and vomiting, especially when starting the medication or when the dose increases.

  • Headache: Headaches are a common side effect of Trazodone and can range from mild to severe.

  • Blurred vision: Trazodone can cause blurred vision or other vision changes.

  • Constipation: Trazodone can cause constipation or other gastrointestinal issues.

  • Weight changes: Some people may experience weight gain or weight loss while taking Trazodone.

  • Sexual side effects: Trazodone can cause sexual side effects such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, or difficulty achieving orgasm.

  • Confusion or memory problems: Trazodone can cause confusion or memory problems, especially in older adults.

In rare cases, Trazodone can cause more severe side effects such as seizures, irregular heartbeat, and liver problems. If you experience any of these side effects or other severe symptoms while taking Trazodone, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Do you have more questions about trazodone? Reach out.

What Happens if You Mix Trazodone and Lexapro?

It is important to be aware of the potential risks if you are considering combining trazodone with Lexapro.

Trazodone is an antidepressant medication that can cause sleepiness, drowsiness, and other side effects like dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, and headache. Lexapro (escitalopram) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is used to treat depression.

Combining trazodone and Lexapro can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.

What Is Serotonin Syndrome?

Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when too much serotonin builds up in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and other brain functions. When levels become too high, it can cause many problems.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, agitation, sweating, rapid heartbeat, muscle spasms, and seizures. If left untreated, serotonin syndrome can lead to coma and even death.

What Should You Do if You Experience Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome?

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, seek medical help immediately. It is important to be aware of the potential risks of combining trazodone with Lexapro so that you can take steps to avoid them.

Your doctor can adjust your medication dosage or recommend alternative treatments if necessary. It is important to take only the medications that have been prescribed by your doctor and follow their instructions carefully.

It is also important to talk with your doctor about any supplements or herbal remedies you are taking, as some of these may interact with trazodone or Lexapro and increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. Be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking, as well.

By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your treatment is safe and effective. With careful monitoring and following your doctor’s instructions, you can minimize the risks associated with combining trazodone and Lexapro.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Do you need advice about trazodone? Reach out today.

How Long Do the Effects of Trazodone Last?

The duration of the effect of trazodone can vary depending on several factors, including the individual's metabolism, dosage, and medical condition being treated. Typically, trazodone has a half-life of about 3 to 6 hours, meaning it takes the body this amount of time to eliminate half of the medication from the bloodstream. However, the effects of the medication may last longer than this.

For the treatment of depression, trazodone is usually taken daily and may take several weeks to achieve the full therapeutic effect. The medication can stay in the body for several days after the last dose, so the full effect may continue for a while, even after discontinuing the medication.

For the treatment of insomnia, trazodone is usually taken on an as-needed basis, usually about 30 minutes before bedtime. The effects of the medication typically last about 4 to 6 hours, which can help individuals fall and stay asleep throughout the night.

It's crucial to follow the dosing instructions provided by your healthcare provider and stay within the recommended dosage. If you have any questions about the duration of the effects of trazodone, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider. They can provide more specific information based on your personal medical history and treatment plan.

How Long Does Trazadone Take to Work?

Trazadone is a prescription medication used to treat depression and anxiety. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate mood and social behavior. Trazadone can take up to four weeks for it to reach its full therapeutic effect, although some people may experience relief sooner than that.

In general, most people will begin to notice a difference in their mood within 1-2 weeks of starting the medication. It is important to be patient and take your medications as prescribed while you wait for them to take effect.

It is also important to talk with your doctor if you experience any side effects or feel like the medication isn't working properly. Your doctor may need to adjust the dosage or switch you to a different type of medication if trazodone isn't providing adequate relief. It's also possible that other lifestyle changes may be necessary in order to better manage your depression or anxiety.

Exercise, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular activities can all help improve your mental health and make it easier for medications like trazodone to work

How Long Do You Sleep on Trazodone?

Trazodone is a sedative, meaning it can help people fall asleep and stay asleep. Most people who take trazodone have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep than those who don't take it. The average amount of sleep that is recommended for adults is 7-9 hours per night.

Taking trazodone may decrease the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep, but it may also increase the amount of time you stay asleep. However, this is highly dependent on the dosage and how your body responds to the medication.

It's important to note that taking trazodone can cause drowsiness during the day, which can be dangerous if you have activities like driving or operating heavy machinery that require alertness. In addition, taking trazodone can lead to dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if it's taken for extended periods of time.

Therefore, it is important to talk with your doctor before starting or stopping this medication.

It's also important to remember that sleeping too much can be just as detrimental as sleeping too little, so it's important to talk with your doctor if you're having trouble getting the right amount of sleep. Your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage or even recommend other treatments to help you get better sleep.

Finally, it is important to note that trazodone should not be used as a long-term solution for sleeping problems, but rather as a short-term solution to help you get back on track. Such as, if your insomnia is caused by an underlying problem such as stress or depression, then talk with your doctor about more long-term strategies for sleeping and managing that condition.

Additionally, it's always important to practice healthy sleep habits such as avoiding caffeine and technology before bedtime in order to ensure the best quality of sleep.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Would you like more information about trazodone? Reach out today.

What Are the Reasons for Addiction to Trazodone?

Compared to other medications like opioids or benzodiazepines, Trazodone is often not considered to be a remarkably addictive medication. Yet, some people still have a chance of becoming addicted to the substance or misusing it in a harmful way. 

There are several reasons why someone may become addicted to Trazodone:

Seeking a High

Some individuals may take trazodone in higher doses than prescribed or with other substances to experience a euphoric high.


Some individuals may use trazodone to self-medicate symptoms such as anxiety or depression. They may increase their dose without consulting a healthcare provider or continue to take the medication after the symptoms have resolved.


Regular use of trazodone can lead to physical dependence, meaning that the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and requires it to function normally. When someone tries to stop taking the medication, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and anxiety.

Co-Occurring Addiction

Individuals who struggle with other substance use disorders may be more prone to developing an addiction to trazodone. This is because they may have a pattern of addictive behavior or be more likely to misuse medications.

Recovery From Addiction to Trazodone

Trazodone is a medication primarily used to treat depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. It belongs to a class of medications known as serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs). While Trazodone is generally considered safe, it can be habit-forming, and some individuals may develop a dependence on the drug.

Recovering from an addiction to Trazodone can be challenging, but with the right support and treatment, overcoming the addiction and achieving lasting sobriety is possible. Here are some steps to consider when recovering from Trazodone addiction:

Seek professional help: The first step in recovering from Trazodone addiction is to seek professional help. This may involve consulting a healthcare provider or addiction specialist, who can guide how to withdraw from the drug and manage any withdrawal symptoms safely.

Detoxification: The next step is to undergo detoxification, which involves gradually tapering off the drug under medical supervision. Drug detox minimizes withdrawal symptoms and prevents any potentially dangerous complications.

Therapy: Once the detoxification process is complete, it's important to seek therapy to address the underlying causes of the addiction. Therapy can help individuals identify triggers that lead to drug use, learn coping mechanisms to deal with stress and other challenges, and develop healthier habits and behaviors.

Support groups: Support groups can provide ongoing support and encouragement throughout recovery. These groups offer a safe and non-judgmental space where individuals can share their experiences and receive support from others who have gone through similar struggles.

Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes, such as engaging in regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep, can also help recover from Trazodone addiction. These changes can help improve overall physical and mental health and reduce the risk of relapse.

Mindfulness-based therapies: Mindfulness-based therapies, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), are designed to help individuals cultivate awareness of their thoughts and emotions and learn healthy coping mechanisms. These therapies can help manage stress and anxiety, common drug use triggers.

Medication-assisted treatment: Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves using medications, such as buprenorphine or naltrexone, to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. MAT can be beneficial in the early stages of recovery and is often used with other therapies.

The Edge Treatment Center Will Help You Break Your Addiction to Trazodone

The Edge Treatment Center is designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals in recovery. We offer comfortable accommodations and amenities to help individuals feel at home and access nutritious meals, exercise facilities, and recreational activities to promote physical and emotional well-being.

Our staff is committed to providing compassionate and personalized care to each individual we serve. We understand that recovery from addiction is a journey, and we are here to support and guide individuals every step of the way. If you want to learn more about how we can help you leave trazodone behind for good, contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

Newsletter banner

Sign up for Our Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest news, resources, and updates from The Edge Treatment Center, #1 Orange County Rehab.