Restoril vs Trazodone

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For patients struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders, certain medications that modify the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain can help to induce sleep and regulate sleeping patterns. Restoril and Trazodone are two such drugs commonly prescribed for individuals dealing with these issues. They each impact different aspects of brain function, but both aim to promote restful sleep among users. Restoril is a benzodiazepine, affecting GABA receptors by enhancing their effects to induce sedation and muscle relaxation. On the other hand, Trazodone is classified as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) which primarily affects levels of serotonin in the brain while also blocking specific types of adrenergic receptors which interferes with some mental processes thereby inducing drowsiness.

What is Restoril?

Temazepam, the generic name for Restoril, is a benzodiazepine that was first approved by the FDA in 1981. Restoril enhances the effect of GABA—a neurotransmitter that inhibits activity in the brain—resulting in sedation, muscle relaxation and anti-anxiety effects. It's typically prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia.

Trazodone, on the other hand, is an atypical antidepressant with sedative properties. It works by increasing levels of serotonin and blocking certain adrenergic receptors which results in its sleep-inducing effect. Unlike Restoril, Trazodone has a broader spectrum of action as it also affects norepinephrine and dopamine to some extent.

While both drugs can be used to treat insomnia, they have different mechanisms of action. The side-effect profile varies between these two medications due largely to their differing influences on various neurotransmitters.

What conditions is Restoril approved to treat?

Restoril, also known as Temazepam, is approved for the treatment of certain sleep disorders:

  • Short-term treatment of insomnia (generally 7-10 days)
  • Sleep onset insomnia
  • Maintenance insomnia

Meanwhile, Trazodone is often used off-label for the management of insomnia. However it's primary indication is:

  • Major depressive disorder

How does Restoril help with these illnesses?

Restoril works to manage insomnia by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain. It does this by binding to specific receptors, thereby amplifying GABA's inhibitory effects and promoting sleep. GABA regulates excitability in the nervous system and plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body's response to stress. Reduced levels of GABA have been linked with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders like insomnia. Therefore, by augmenting GABA activity, Restoril can alleviate symptoms of insomnia and help patients achieve more restful sleep.

On the other hand, Trazodone is an antidepressant that also has sedative properties which make it effective for treating certain types of insomnia. It increases serotonin levels much like Prozac but also blocks certain adrenergic receptors which results in its calming effect.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone, sold under many brand names worldwide, is an antidepressant of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) class. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain by reducing its reabsorption, a process known as reuptake inhibition. Trazodone also blocks the action of another neurotransmitter, adrenaline (norepinephrine), at adrenergic alpha1 receptors which leads to its sedative effects. Trazodone was first approved for medical use in 1981.

As it's not a typical benzodiazepine like Restoril (Temazepam), it does not carry the risk of physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms associated with long-term benzodiazepine use. Its unique effect on both serotonin and adrenaline mean that its side-effect profile differs from other classes of medication used for sleep disorders such as insomnia; notably causing less cognitive impairment and less potential for abuse than traditional sleeping pills.

This dual-action can be beneficial especially for patients who struggle with both depression and insomnia or those who have had poor responses to more 'typical' sleep aids such as Temazepam.

What conditions is Trazodone approved to treat?

Trazodone is approved for the treatment of:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD), with or without associated anxiety
  • Insomnia, particularly when it's related to depression.

It should be noted that Trazodone can also aid in improving mood, appetite and energy levels which are usually affected by depression.

How does Trazodone help with these illnesses?

Trazodone is a type of medication that works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, helping to restore chemical balance and enhance mood. As with norepinephrine, low levels of serotonin have been linked to conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders. Trazodone’s primary function is as an antidepressant but it also has significant sedative properties which can help patients who struggle with insomnia or sleep disturbances - a common symptom among those with depression. Unlike Restoril, which is primarily prescribed for short-term treatment of acute insomnia symptoms, Trazodone's dual action on mood and sleep makes it beneficial for those experiencing both depressive symptoms alongside sleep disturbance. Since it does not significantly affect norepinephrine levels (unlike some other classes of antidepressants), Trazodone may be preferred when patients do not respond well to standard treatments or there are concerns about potential side effects associated with altering norepinephrine activity.

How effective are both Restoril and Trazodone?

Both temazepam (Restoril) and trazodone have established histories of successful use in treating insomnia, with temazepam being approved by the FDA a few years ahead of trazodone. They act on different receptors in the brain and are therefore often prescribed under varying circumstances. A 1995 study directly compared these two drugs for their efficacy in managing symptoms of primary insomnia; both demonstrated similar effectiveness as well as comparable safety profiles.

A review conducted in 2011 showed that temazepam is effective at initiating sleep from the first night of treatment, has fewer side effects than many other hypnotic medications, and is generally well-tolerated even among elderly populations. This same review reported that Restoril is one of the most widely prescribed sedative-hypnotics worldwide due to its quick onset, short duration action, and fewer withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.

On the other hand, a meta-analysis done in 2008 indicated that although trazodone seems to be more effective than placebo at inducing sleep onset and maintaining sleep throughout the night, it's typically considered secondary or adjunctive treatment option after benzodiazepines like Restoril or Z-drugs such as zolpidem (Ambien). However, given its unique pharmacological properties mainly acting on serotonin modulators rather than GABA receptors like many other hypnotics do -trazodone might be an optimal choice for patients who didn't find relief with traditional treatments or have needs to avoid common side effects associated with them.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Restoril typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Restoril typically range from 15-30 mg/day for adults, with studies indicating that a dose as low as 7.5mg may be sufficient for treating insomnia in some individuals. On the other hand, oral dosages of Trazodone generally range from 50-100 mg/day at bedtime for adults to manage sleep disorders but can be increased over time if there is no response. However, it's important to note that dosage will depend on individual health conditions and responses to treatment. In either case, it's crucial not exceed the maximum recommended dosage; for Restoril this is 30mg/day and for Trazodone this is usually capped at 200mg/day unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.

At what dose is Trazodone typically prescribed?

Trazodone therapy is usually initiated at a dose of 150 mg/day, divided into two or three doses. The dosage can then be increased to 300 mg/day, spaced out in multiple doses throughout the day. If there's no observed response after a few weeks of treatment, the maximum dose may be tested which is up to 400 mg/day for outpatient care and up to 600 mg/day for those in a hospital setting. These higher doses are broken down into smaller ones that are administered several times over the course of each day. As always, medication schedules should adhere strictly to your healthcare provider's instructions.

What are the most common side effects for Restoril?

Common side effects of Restoril and Trazodone may vary. For Restoril, they include:

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Nervousness, restlessness
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dry mouth

On the other hand, Trazodone is associated with these common side effects:

  • Sedation (sleepiness/drowsiness)
  • Dizziness or unsteadiness due to reduced blood pressure when standing up
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Fatigue / general weakness
  • Constipation or diarrhea -Nausea/vomiting

Both medications may also have severe side effects such as memory issues, mood changes and trouble breathing which should be reported immediately to a healthcare provider.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Restoril?

While Restoril and Trazodone are both used to treat insomnia, the potential side effects can differ significantly. With Restoril, some of the more severe but rare side effects include:

  • Thoughts about suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Vision changes such as blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or seeing halos around lights
  • Heart abnormalities like fast or pounding heartbeats and sudden dizziness
  • Low sodium levels - symptoms may include headache, confusion, slurred speech among others

Similarly with Trazodone:

  • Severe nervous system reaction - very stiff (rigid) muscles high fever sweating confusion fast uneven heartbeats tremors feeling faint.
  • Serotonin syndrome marked by agitation hallucinations fever shivering muscle stiffness twitching loss coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea.

Always consult a healthcare provider if you experience any unusual side effects while taking either medication.

What are the most common side effects for Trazodone?

Trazodone, similar to Restoril, is often prescribed for sleep problems. However, it can cause a number of side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Stuffy nose or sinus congestion
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Sleep disturbances such as nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Confusion and agitation
  • Skin reactions like rash. While weight loss isn't typical with Trazodone use, some people may experience changes in appetite. Increased urination isn't usually associated with this medication either. Some users have reported headaches and dizziness, while muscle pain is less common but could occur. It's always important to monitor any new symptoms when starting a medication like Trazodone and report them to your healthcare provider promptly.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Trazodone?

While trazodone is generally considered safe for use, it's important to be aware of potential serious side effects. If you experience any of the following while taking trazodone, reach out to your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Serotonin syndrome - symptoms may include hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real), loss of coordination, rapid heartbeat, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles and unusual agitation/restlessness.
  • Worsening depression or suicidal thoughts particularly if these changes occur when you first start therapy or during dosage adjustments.
  • Chest pain or pressure including a fast/irregular heartbeat.
  • Unusual bruising/bleeding (such as nosebleeds).
  • Eye pain/swelling/redness along with visual problems like blurred vision Remember to always consult with your doctor before making any changes to how you take this medication.

Contraindications for Restoril and Trazodone?

Both Restoril and Trazodone, like most sleep aids and antidepressants, can potentially exacerbate symptoms of depression or anxiety in some individuals. If you notice worsening of your mood, an increase in distressing thoughts, or any unusual behavior changes while taking these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Restoril nor Trazodone should be used if you are currently consuming alcohol or using other sleeping pills/sedatives. It's crucial to inform your physician about all the medications - prescription or over-the-counter - that you're taking; this is because certain substances could interact dangerously with both Restoril and Trazodone.

It’s also important to note that abrupt discontinuation of these drugs can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, headache and malaise; therefore a gradual dose reduction under medical supervision is recommended when discontinuing treatment.

How much do Restoril and Trazodone cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 capsules of Restoril (30mg) averages around $220, which works out to roughly $7.33/day.
  • The price for 60 tablets of Trazodone (50 mg) averages around $160, working out to approximately $2.66/day.

Thus, if you are in a higher dosage range for Restoril (i.e., taking it daily), then brand-name Trazodone is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be your primary consideration when deciding which medication suits your needs best.

In terms of generic versions:

  • Temazepam (generic Restoril), is available in packs from 10 up to 500 capsules with costs ranging from about $0.20 to $1 per day depending on the dosage and quantity purchased.
  • Generic Trazodone is also available in various quantities starting as low as just over cents per day and not exceeding about a dollar per day depending upon dose and purchase size.

Popularity of Restoril and Trazodone

Temazepam, commonly known by the brand name Restoril, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 2.8 million people in the US in 2020. Temazepam accounted for roughly 6% of benzodiazepine prescriptions in the US. It is a sedative medication primarily used for managing insomnia and has maintained a steady prevalence over several years.

Trazodone, on the other hand, was prescribed to approximately 11 million individuals in America during that same year. Trazodone's primary use isn't as a sleep aid; it's an antidepressant medication often utilized off-label for insomnia due to its sedating effects. In terms of overall antidepressant prescriptions in America, trazodone accounts for nearly 15%. Similar to temazepam, trazodone’s prescription frequency has remained relatively stable over the past decade.


Both Restoril (temazepam) and Trazodone are commonly used in the treatment of insomnia, backed by numerous clinical studies demonstrating their effectiveness compared to placebo treatments. In some cases, these drugs may be combined under careful consideration by a physician as they have different mechanisms of action but can also interact with each other. Restoril works primarily as a benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotic that increases the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that slows brain activity. On the other hand, Trazodone is an antidepressant that enhances serotonin activity and has a sedating effect which helps induce sleep.

Both medications are available in generic forms representing significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. Both Restoril and Trazodone may require an adjustment period meaning effects might not be noticeable immediately.

The side effect profiles between the two drugs differ somewhat; while both being generally well-tolerated, trazodone tends to cause less dependency than temazepam but it's more likely to cause daytime drowsiness and dry mouth whereas temazepam can potentially lead to confusion especially in older adults. For both medications, patients should closely monitor their moods particularly when starting treatment or changing doses - any changes should prompt immediate medical consultation.