How Do You Stop Taking Sleeping Pills?

How Do You Stop Taking Sleeping Pills?

Lack of good sleep can feel like a nightmare. But, when relying on sleeping pills to achieve a good night’s sleep turns into a dangerous dependency, it might be time to wake up. How do you stop taking sleeping pills?

In this article, we will explore the strategies and techniques you need for how to stop taking sleeping pills. From understanding the risks of long-term use to implementing alternative sleep-promoting methods, we've got you covered.

Understanding Sleeping Pill Withdrawal

When you've been taking sleeping pills for a prolonged period, your body can become dependent on them to fall asleep. This dependence can make it challenging to quit without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Sleeping pill withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, depending on factors such as the severity and length of the addiction. Some common withdrawal symptoms include difficulty sleeping, restlessness, anxiety, shivering, and circulation problems.

It's crucial to understand that withdrawal from sleeping pills can be intense, and in some cases, life-threatening. Therefore, seeking medical assistance during the withdrawal process is highly recommended. Medical professionals can monitor your vital signs, address any potential health concerns, and provide support to manage or prevent withdrawal symptoms effectively.

The Importance of Medical Detox

When contemplating how to stop taking sleeping pills, medical detox is considered the safest way to withdraw from sleeping pills or any other addictive drug. During medical detox, doctors closely monitor individuals in withdrawal, ensuring their safety and well-being throughout the process. This approach allows for the management of withdrawal symptoms and the prevention of any potential complications.

Medical detox typically involves the administration of intravenous (IV) fluids to balance electrolytes and replenish the body. This helps alleviate symptoms such as body spasms, seizures, insomnia, delirium, anxiety, irritability, depression, confusion, hallucinations, sweating, increased heart rate, hand tremors, and nausea or vomiting.

If you're considering how to stop taking sleeping pills, it's essential to consult with a medical professional to determine the most suitable approach for your specific situation. They can provide personalized guidance and create a comprehensive plan to help you safely navigate the withdrawal process.

How to Stop Taking Sleeping Pills: Create a Tapering Plan

When deciding how to stop taking sleeping pills- similar to quitting an alcohol addiction- it’s not recommended to quit cold turkey. Tapering off sleeping pills gradually is a widely recommended strategy to minimize withdrawal symptoms and increase the chances of successful withdrawal. Tapering involves gradually reducing the dosage of sleeping pills over time until you can completely stop taking them. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create a tapering plan:

Consult with Your Doctor: It's crucial to work closely with your doctor throughout the tapering process. They can provide expert guidance, monitor your progress, and make any necessary adjustments to ensure your safety and well-being.

Establish Step Sizes and Milestones: Decide on the size of the dosage reduction for each step and set milestones to track your progress. For example, you may choose to reduce the dosage by one-eighth of a pill at a time. Your first milestone could be reaching seven-eighths of a pill.

Gradually Increase Lower Doses: Start by taking the lower dose (e.g., seven-eighths of a pill) once per week, and gradually increase the number of nights per week that you take the lower dose compared to the full dose. This allows your body to adjust to the lower dosage gradually.

Spread Out Lower Doses: As you progress, spread out the lower doses over a longer period. For example, if you are taking the smaller dose twice per week, you can eventually take it every fourth night.

Repeat Weeks if Needed: If you experience difficulties during the tapering process, such as increased withdrawal symptoms, it's okay to repeat weeks or stabilize at a particular dosage before continuing the taper more slowly. Your doctor can guide you through this decision.

Set New High and Low Doses: Once you reach a milestone, such as seven-eighths of a pill every night, that dose becomes your new high dose. You can then set an additional step down (e.g., three-quarters of a pill) as your new low dose. Repeat the pattern that got you to the first milestone to achieve subsequent milestones.

Slow the Taper Toward the End: As you approach the end of the tapering process, reducing the dosage by one-eighth of a pill may represent a larger percentage reduction. Slow down the taper to ensure a smoother transition.

Maintain a Tapering Calendar: Keep track of your progress and dosage schedule on an editable calendar. This will help you stay organized and maintain your resolve throughout the tapering process.

By following a tapering plan for how to stop taking sleeping pills, you can gradually reduce your reliance on the pills while minimizing withdrawal symptoms and increasing your chances of long-term success.

Additional Strategies for How to Stop Taking Sleeping Pills

In addition to tapering off sleeping pills, there are several strategies you can incorporate into your routine to facilitate a successful transition:

1. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial for improving your sleep quality and promoting healthy sleep habits. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and enhances the natural sleep-wake cycle.

2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Engaging in relaxing activities before bed can signal to your body that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Consider incorporating activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, or listening to calming music.

3. Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Create a sleep-friendly environment that is conducive to restful sleep. Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out any unwanted light, and consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to mask any disruptive noises.

4. Limit Stimulants and Electronic Devices

Avoid consuming stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Additionally, limit your exposure to electronic devices, especially in the evening, as the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.

5. Engage in Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity has been shown to improve sleep quality. Engage in moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. However, be mindful of timing your exercise earlier in the day, as exercising too close to bedtime may have the opposite effect.

6. Practice Stress-Reduction Techniques

Excessive stress and anxiety can interfere with your sleep. Explore stress-reduction techniques that work for you, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, journaling, or seeking support from a mental health professional. Managing your stress levels can contribute to better sleep.

7. Consider Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a proven therapy that helps individuals address underlying factors contributing to their sleep difficulties. It focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors related to sleep and implementing strategies to improve sleep hygiene. Consider seeking CBT-I from a trained therapist specializing in sleep disorders.

8. Explore Natural Sleep Aids

If you're looking for alternative options to support your sleep during the transition off sleeping pills, consider natural sleep aids. These can include herbal supplements such as valerian root, melatonin, chamomile, or lavender essential oil. However, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.

9. Seek Accountability

Accountability is crucial when attempting to quit sleeping pills. Having someone or something to answer to can help keep individuals motivated and committed to their goal of breaking free from dependence on these medications. Whether it's a trusted friend, family member, support group, or healthcare professional, having someone to hold you accountable can provide encouragement, guidance, and a sense of responsibility.


How do you stop taking sleeping pills? By working closely with your healthcare provider, creating a tapering plan, and implementing healthy sleep habits, you can successfully transition to a medication-free sleep routine. Remember to prioritize your overall well-being, listen to your body, and seek professional support whenever needed. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve restful nights and improve your overall sleep health.


The Washington Post - How do you stop taking sleeping pills safely?

FHE Health - 5 tips for how to stop taking sleeping pills

Addiction Center - Sleeping pill withdrawal and detox

The smarter way to stay accountable
Real-time group support and personalized feedback to help you overcome addiction — no matter how many times you’ve tried.
Learn Morean iphone with the text identify where boundaries may have slipped

Find Effective, Evidence-Based Treatment for Addiction in the Relay Program

There is help available to you if you or a loved one has a physical dependence or psychological dependence on a behavior or substance. These urges and compulsive behaviors can control your life, but you can take back control. Relay's addiction recovery program provides a comprehensive, outpatient approach to behavioral change - at home, at your own pace. To each new program member, we provide a personalized recovery plan, a peer support group, progress tracking, journaling, and intelligent insights about your behavior patterns, all within a simple and secure mobile app Our proven approach helps program members achieve the best chance at long-term recovery without the time or expense of rehab or therapy. Try the Relay program for free here; if you need help as you get set up, contact us now at

relay logo

Get connected and stay accountable
with peers

Join a team

A better way to recovery, right in your pocket.

a cell phone with a text message on the screen