Flurazepam, often sold under the brand name Dalmane, is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat insomnia. Like other benzodiazepines, flurazepam works by slowing down the nervous system.

Flurazepam brand names

The most common brand names associated with flurazepam are Dalmane and Dalmadorm.

What is flurazepam prescribed for?

Flurazepam is usually prescribed for the treatment of insomnia (trouble sleeping). It belongs to a class of medicines called benzodiazepines, which also includes diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax).

How does flurazepam work?

Flurazepam works by slowing activity in the brain. Like all benzodiazepines, it affects specific benzodiazepine receptors in the central nervous system. [1] This in turn makes it easier to fall asleep.

How is flurazepam usually taken?

Flurazepam usually comes in tablets or capsules and is taken by mouth. As it is used to treat insomnia, it should be taken just before bedtime. The prescription label will indicate exactly what dosage should be taken. If you do not understand the instructions, please consult your doctor. 

The typical dose of flurazepam is 15 mg or 30 mg. Do not take a double dose if you miss one.

Your sleep problems should have improved after seven to 10 days from the first dose. [2] Inform your doctor if sleep problems persist after this time.

How long does flurazepam stay in your system?

Flurazepam is rapidly metabolized within the body, with effects peaking around 30-60 minutes after dosing.

The half-life (the time it takes for the amount of the drug to be reduced by half in the body) of flurazepam is 2.3 hours. [3] It is subsequently excreted through the urine.

Flurazepam side effects

Flurazepam can cause side effects. Inform your doctor if any of the following symptoms persist:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Taking more doses than prescribed 

Some adverse effects of Flurazepam are serious and you should seek immediate emergency medical attention if you have any of them. These include:

  • Hives or rashes
  • Swelling in the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Coma (loss of consciousness for an extended period of time). [2]

Flurazepam precautions

Serious allergic reactions, although uncommon, can occur with flurazepam. If you know you are allergic to flurazepam, or any other benzodiazepine, inform your doctor immediately. If you are unsure, ask your doctor for a list of ingredients and check if you are allergic to any of them. [2]

You should also inform your doctor if you are taking any other prescription or non-prescription medications including (but not limited to) vitamins, nutritional supplements, antihistamines, anti-anxiety or anti-depression medicines, muscle relaxants, sedatives, other sleeping pills etc. 

You must also inform your doctor if you have ever had sleep apnea (sleep disorder that can stop breathing for periods of time during sleep) or lung, kidney, or liver disease. 

If you are or plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding, you must also inform your doctor. Should you become pregnant whilst on flurazepam, stop taking it immediately and inform your doctor.

If you are above the age of 65, you should consult with your doctor before taking flurazepam. This is because there are safer medications used to treat this condition in elderly patients.

Before having any kind of surgery, including dental surgery, please inform the doctor or dentist that you are taking flurazepam.

This medication can cause drowsiness. Please bear this in mind if you get out of bed in the middle of the night. Please also refrain from driving a car or operating heavy machinery until you are sure of how this medicine affects you. [2] 

Flurazepam, like other benzodiazepines, can be highly addictive. If you have a history of substance use disorders, either prescription or illegal, you should avoid flurazepam completely or talk to your doctor before taking it.

Flurazepam interactions

When taking flurazepam, you should generally limit or avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. This is because alcohol can exacerbate some common side effects of flurazepam, such as dizziness and drowsiness.

If you are taking sodium oxybate (which is used as daytime sleepiness), you should avoid flurazepam, as it increases the CNS-depressant activities of sodium oxybate.

Flurazepam storage

Flurazepam should be stored at room temperature, away from heat and moisture (i.e., not in the bathroom), and kept out of the reach of children.

What to do if you overdose on flurazepam

In case of severe drowsiness, confusion, or periods of unconsciousness, this could indicate an overdose on flurazepam. In this case, please call the poison control helpline on 1-800-222-1222.

If someone taking flurazepam collapses, has a seizure, has trouble breathing, or cannot be awakened, call 911 immediately. [2]

FAQ

Are there any alternatives to flurazepam?

There are risks associated with taking benzodiazepines like flurazepam, such as adverse reactions and physical dependence, so consider taking over-the-counter sleep aids instead. These can include:

  • Melatonin: a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle
  • Valerian: a plant-based supplement that can reportedly help with sleep patterns
  • Doxylamine (Unisom): a sedating antihistamine. Side effects can include daytime drowsiness, dry mouth and urinary retention.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl): also a sedating antihistamine. Can cause side effects similar to those of Doxylamine.

Resources:

  1. de Paula, A.J.M. (1980). Flurazepam in insomnia. In Priest, R.G., Filho, U.V., Amrein, R., Skreta, M. (Eds.) Benzodiazepines. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-7238-7_23
  2. MedlinePlus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); [updated 2021 May 15; cited 2022 Oct 26]; Flurazepam. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682051.html
  3. Griffin CE 3rd, Kaye AM, Bueno FR, Kaye AD. Benzodiazepine pharmacology and central nervous system-mediated effects. Ochsner J. 2013 Summer;13(2):214-23. PMID: 23789008; PMCID: PMC3684331.