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How Much Tizanidine (Zanaflex) Should I Take for Sleep?

One of the most important things to consider when taking any medication for sleep is how much you should take. Taking too little won’t have the desired results and taking too much could be dangerous.

In today’s article, you’ll learn how much tizanidine (Zanaflex) you should take for sleep, plus more information on how the drug works, potential side effects, and if it’s the best choice for you.

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What is Tizanidine (Zanaflex)?

Tizanidine (also referred to as Zanaflex), is a medication used to treat muscle spasms caused by MS (multiple sclerosis). MS is a disease that affects how the nerves in your body function. This medication is also used to treat symptoms associated with a brain injury, spinal injury, or stroke.

Tizanidine is in a class of drugs known as skeletal muscle relaxants that work to slow down the central nervous system (CNS) and, in turn, help the muscles in your body relax. It also blocks certain nerve impulses in the brain that are associated with pain.

Unlike some other muscle relaxants, tizanidine is approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration). But it’s important to note, this medication is approved for use as a muscle relaxant and to treat the above-mentioned conditions. It’s not currently FDA-approved as a sleep aid. But that doesn’t mean it may not have benefits for insomnia sufferers.

By helping relax the muscles and reduce pain, tizanidine has proven quite effective as a sleep aid. Muscle relaxation can help induce sleep and improve sleep quality. Studies suggest that this medication is useful for treating refractory sleep disturbances in spastic quadriplegic patients.

Things to Consider Before Taking Tizanidine

Before you start taking tizanidine, there are a few things to consider including drug interactions, allergic reactions, and potential side effects.

Tizanidine can negatively interact with some medications including the antidepressant Luvox (fluvoxamine) and the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin). Because tizanidine is a muscle relaxer, it can compromise and weaken the muscle tone you need to balance, coordinate, and perform certain physical activities. Being in a state of reduced muscle tone can be dangerous in certain situations so it’s important to take your medication at the same time each day, in a safe place.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions before you start taking tizanidine.

  • Low blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

It’s unknown if taking tizanidine could cause harm to pregnant women or unborn babies, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant.

Tizanidine is a short-acting medication that usually takes effect within 3 hours of first taking it. Some patients report feeling the effects as soon as 60 minutes after their first dose. Keep this in mind when timing your dosage, especially if you’re taking tizanidine for sleep.

Patients who take tizanidine long-term should get frequent blood tests to check liver function. Don’t abruptly stop taking this medication without consulting with your doctor. Doing so can result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms including irregular heartbeat, tremors, anxiety, and dizziness.

Tizanidine Dosage

Most people start off by taking 2mg of tizanidine every 6 to 8 hours, with a maximum of 3 doses per day. Never take more than 36 mg of this medication in a single 24-hour period. Overdosing on tizanidine can cause liver damage and other harmful side effects.

Tizanidine causes sleepiness, which is one reason it doubles as a sleep aid. Certain medications can increase feelings of tiredness including cold and allergy medications, other sleeping pills, other muscle relaxers, certain seizure medications, narcotic pain medicine, and certain anti-depressants. Alcohol may also intensify side effects and should be avoided while taking tizanidine.

Every patient’s situation is unique, so you should only take tizanidine as directed and prescribed by your doctor. Dosage and frequency depend on the strength of the particular medicine. Other factors include how many doses you take per day, how much time between doses, how long you plan to take it, and what specific condition it’s treating.

Tizanidine comes in several forms including tablets and capsules. Each form of medication may affect you differently. What you eat when taking tizanidine also plays a role and can either increase or decrease side effects and efficacy. For example, taking capsules with food may decrease blood levels of tizanidine while taking tablets with food will increase them. Stay in constant communication with your doctor after making adjustments to your dosage to ensure you don’t experience any dangerous side effects.

If you miss a single dose of tizanidine, take it as soon as you remember unless this surpasses your next scheduled dose. In this case, simply resume your regular schedule. Never double dose.

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Common Side Effects of Tizanidine

Every medication has side effects. When choosing the best medicine to treat your sleep disturbances or sleep disorder, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. If the side effects of a certain medication outweigh the potential benefits, you may want to consider an alternate treatment.

Some rare but serious side effects of tizanidine include:

  • Dizziness or light-headed feeling
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Weak or shallow breathing
  • Painful urination

If you experience extreme difficulty breathing, develop a rash or hives, or swelling of the lips, face, throat, or tongue, you may be having an allergic reaction to tizanidine and should contact a healthcare facility immediately.

Other, more common and less dangerous side effects include:

  • Nervousness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Blurred vision
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble speaking
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements

These side effects can present themselves in varying degrees. If you’re concerned about any of these side effects, contact your doctor immediately.

Potential Drug Interactions

Tizanidine may have potentially harmful or dangerous interactions with other medications. Depending on what medicine you’re currently taking and to treat what type of condition, you may notice unpleasant interactions.

If you take tizanidine with other medications that cause drowsiness, you run the risk of slowed breathing and excess sleepiness. These medications include other sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, anxiety medication, seizure medication, and certain opioids.

Consult with a doctor before taking tizanidine if you’re taking any of the following medications:

  • Birth control pills
  • Zileuton
  • Ticlopidine
  • Acyclovir 
  • Certain antibiotics (ofloxacin, moxifloxacin, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin)
  • Certain heart rhythm medications (mexiletine, verapamil, amiodarone, or propafenone)
  • Certain anti-acid medications (famotidine, cimetidine)

FAQs About Tizanidine

Here are some frequently asked questions about tizanidine so you can make the most informed decision about treating your sleep troubles and other ailments.

How Much Tizanidine Should I Take for Sleep?

As of this writing, tizanidine is not approved by the FDA for use as a sleep aid, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be prescribed as one. Tizanidine does cause sleepiness and in some cases, can be an effective treatment for certain sleep disorders. Talk to your doctor about whether or not tizanidine is a viable option for your condition.

Is Tizanidine Considered a Controlled Substance?

No. Tizanidine is not considered a controlled substance as designated by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). There haven’t been any studies done on the potential for abusing this particular medication.

How Long Does Tizanidine Stay in Your System?

While the effects of tizanidine can be felt within hours of taking the medication, they don’t wear off for up to 6 hours. Typically, tizanidine isn’t prescribed for use more than 3 times in a 24-hour period.

Does Tizanidine Cause Weight Gain?

Tizanidine isn’t known to cause unexplained weight gain and isn’t listed as one of its common side effects.

How Does Tizanidine Affect Blood Pressure?

Tizanidine has been connected with low blood pressure. In some cases, a person’s blood pressure can drop so low that they experience extreme dizziness or even faint. Slowly increasing your dose of tizanidine can help lower your risk of becoming dizzy and passing out. Always be careful when moving from a sitting or lying position to a standing position to prevent light-headedness.

Can You Become Addicted to Tizanidine?

Tizanidine can be addictive for some people although this theory has not been tested in human studies. Some patients report significant withdrawal symptoms after abruptly stopping the use of tizanidine, but it’s believed these symptoms were made worse by other medications. Ideally, you should wean off of tizanidine and dosing should be tapered off to prevent these unpleasant side effects.

Consider a Multi-Faceted Approach to Healing

There’s no guaranteed cure for insomnia and other sleep disorders. In most cases, patients require a multi-faceted treatment approach that includes medication, lifestyle changes, and therapy. While tizanidine does cause drowsiness and is sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid, its main purpose is to act as a muscle relaxer. Consult with a doctor before considering this medication for sleep.

In the meantime, explore the rest of our website and blog for more useful information on insomnia, common sleep troubles, medications, and treatment options.

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