HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Zopiclone overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Taking Olanzapine and Sertraline: Elizabeth's story
After a couple of weeks my sleeping patterns regulated to how they had been before I began the medication

Zopiclone can be used to treat the following conditions

Headmeds fills the medicines information gaps for young people - things you might want to know about meds like will it affect my sex life? Can I still study?  Can I drink?
Headmeds does not give medical advice so this is just general information.
Each medicine has a balance of good and bad effects, and each person gets their own individual effects.
You might want to know just one thing about your medicine, but on each page we have given you the ‘safety headlines’. Please read them as they are important.

We have included lots of information about each medicine - but if you want all the details, please look at the patient information leaflet - which is inside every pack. These leaflets are also at www.medicines.org.uk - where there will be the most up-to-date information. Please be aware that the leaflets will only refer to the licensed use for your medicine. The leaflet will not mention any off label use - this includes off label conditions and also off label age groups.

Safety Headlines

  •  If you have taken more zopiclone than it said on the label, you must see a doctor quickly - even if you do not feel any different.
  •  Zopiclone can cause rare but serious side-effects. These include allergic reactions (difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat, itching skin lumps) and you should go to a hospital if you get any of these symptoms. Take your medicine with you. Other rare but serious side effects include amnesia (poor memory) and seeing or hearing things that are not real (hallucinations). You should tell your doctor as soon as possible if either of these problems happen.
  • Stopping zopiclone suddenly can cause serious side effects including a sudden return of your insomnia, pain in your muscles, shaking, sweating, feeling agitated or irritable, confusion, headache, a fast pulse and nightmares, seeing things that are not there (hallucinations), and feeling anxious or panicky. You should talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking zopiclone or if you are having these effects.
  •  You might feel sleepy or confused in the first few days after taking zopiclone - do not drive a car, ride a bike or operate machines until you see how this affects you.
  • If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, please read the pregnancy section (see “Sex, drink, weight and everything else”) because zopiclone may affect the developing baby.

Basic details

How does zopiclone work?

  • The brain naturally releases calming chemicals. One of these chemicals is called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
  • Zopiclone works by boosting the effects of GABA and this helps to calm the brain enabling you to get to sleep.

You should take zopiclone as agreed with your doctor

  • Make sure that you know your dose. If it is not written on the label, check it with your pharmacist or doctor.
  • Zopiclone should be taken at the lowest dose possible for the shortest possible time
  • You may agree with your doctor not to take it every night, but perhaps every other night (alternate nights), so you do not get into a habit of taking it.

Your doctor might suggest ways to improve sleep naturally by changing some habits such as:

  • Stopping daytime naps
  • Reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Having a regular sleep-wake routine
  • Making sure your sleeping area is as comfortable and quiet as possible

This is called the “sleep hygiene approach” and you can talk about it with your doctor

  • You should take zopiclone just before you go to bed.
  • If you can make sure that you get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, you will get less side-effects the next day such as poor memory
  • Zopiclone should be swallowed whole with a glass of water.

If you forget to take a dose then just take it on the next night

What to do if you miss a dose:

  • If you forget to take it by bedtime, just start again on the next night.
  • Do not take a double dose.
  • If you forget to take your tablets for a few days, and you have only been taking them for less than one month, you should not get any withdrawal symptoms. If you are thinking about not taking them again then talk to your doctor.
  • You could get your old symptoms back and have difficulty getting to sleep.
  • This means that you should talk to your doctor about it.

Reference sources

Search www.medicines.org.uk to find patient information leaflets and prescribing information on zopiclone. The SmPC lists all the inactive ingredients in the product so you can check against any allergies. If you are still unsure about this then speak to your pharmacist.

  • British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for children. Download the BNF/BNFC app (blue background) on to your mobile device. No longer available for public access via the web
  • Taylor D, Barnes T, Young A. Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry, 13th edition. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, May 2018. ISBN: 978-1-119-44260-8
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Medicines Ethics and Practice (42nd edition). London: RPS, 2018. Standards for pharmacists to work to. It is not a free publication
  • World Anti Doping Agency WADA Prohibited List https://www.wada-ama.org/en/resources/science-medicine/prohibited-list-documents
  • Choiceandmedication; an independent source of information on many mental health conditions and their medicines with easy to read fact sheets www.choiceandmedication.org Personal subscriptions to download the app available for £1 per month (with proportionate discounts for longer periods) but your local mental health Trust may subscribe and provide information sheets for free.
  • Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS). Information sheets on drugs in pregnancy http://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/
  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Information on drugs in breastfeeding https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm 
  • NICE TA77: Guidance on the use of zaleplon, zolpidem and zopiclone for the short-term management of insomnia. (April 2004) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ta77 Note since publication zaleplon has been discontinued