Temazepam is a benzodiazepine medication, primarily used for short-term treatment of insomnia. This medication should be used exactly as prescribed, as it may cause physical or mental dependency if misused. Always discuss with your doctor or healthcare provider the safety of taking temazepam with any other medications (prescribed or over the counter), as adverse events can occur.

Temazepam brand names

  • Restoril

What is temazepam prescribed for?

Temazepam is prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia, categorized by difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, or experiencing early-morning waking. 

Temazepam should only be used for a maximum of 7-10 consecutive days, due to it being likely to cause physical or mental dependence, which may lead to medication misuse and withdrawal symptoms.[1][2]

It is a Schedule IV controlled substance [1][3], because of its potential for misuse, so pharmacies will typically not give more than one month of tablets at a time, and repeat prescriptions are very limited.

How does temazepam work?

Temazepam works by increasing the effects of a neurotransmitter called Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which results in a reduction of certain brain activity. This then causes a sedative effect, relaxes the muscles, and reduces anxiety.[4]

How is temazepam usually taken?

Temazepam is available in 7.5mg, 15mg, 22.5mg, and 30mg capsules, which should be swallowed whole.

Your doctor may begin your treatment with a low dose of 7.5mg or 15mg, to be taken once per day, just before you go to bed. This dose can then be increased if required. A typical adult dose is 15-30mg to be taken at bedtime and will likely never be increased beyond 30mg.[1]

Your dose may depend on your age and the severity of your symptoms. For adults over the age of 65, it is recommended that the initial dose be 7.5mg, due to the increased risk of side effects.

Temazepam causes sedation and drowsiness, which is why it should never be taken during the day, or too long before you go to bed, as it can lead to dangerous situations, especially if you’re working, driving, cooking, and you may experience memory issues.

Take temazepam exactly as prescribed, at the correct time, and at the correct dose. 

If you forget to take it and are struggling to sleep, you can still take your usual dose of temazepam as long as you will still be in bed for another 7-8 hours afterward. Never double your dose if you missed the previous dose, or take more than your prescribed dose, as this can cause an increased risk of side effects or dependence.

It is advised not to take temazepam for more than 7-10 consecutive days.[1][2][4] If your sleep problems have not improved at this time, consult your doctor about how to continue your treatment. 

Suddenly stopping temazepam, taking more than prescribed, or for longer than prescribed may all contribute to an increased risk of unwanted effects, addiction, or withdrawal symptoms.[1][2] Depending on your dose and length of treatment, your doctor will likely reduce your prescription slowly to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring.

How long does temazepam stay in your system?

Temazepam has a quick action and a short half-life. As such, you may feel the effects of the medication 10-20 minutes after your first dose and the medication can continue to work for up to 15 hours. [1][5][6] Because of this, it is unlikely that you will feel groggy or ‘hungover’ the following morning, although this may occur with larger doses of temazepam.

Temazepam will be entirely out of your system within 24 hours.

Temazepam side effects

When starting a new medication, you may experience some common side effects. They will likely reduce on their own, but if they continue or become problematic, consult with your doctor immediately. Common side effects of temazepam include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hangover the following morning
  • Increase in dreams or nightmares

Serious side effects and allergic reactions to temazepam are less common but may still occur. If you experience any of the following, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, or eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Changes in mental state, including aggressive behavior or violence, hallucinations, delusions, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of harming yourself, or an increase in depression

Temazepam precautions

It is important that your doctor is aware of any past or present mental health conditions you have experienced, to enable safe monitoring of your condition while on this medication, or to decide if it is safe for you.

Discuss with your doctor all your past and present physical health conditions, as they may impact your ability to take this medication safely. Inform your doctor if you have had heart, kidney, or liver conditions, seizures, or breathing problems.

Insomnia may often be caused by a physical or mental health condition, so it is advised to speak with your doctor about evaluating and ascertaining this cause, prior to beginning temazepam treatment. It may be possible to resolve the root cause of your sleep problems without the need for medication, or an alternative treatment may be preferable.[1]

Tell your doctor about all medications you are currently taking, or plan to take (including vitamins, dietary and herbal supplements), as they may cause adverse reactions.

Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, as temazepam can cause harm to your fetus and result in birth defects [1][2][4], so you may wish to consider alternative treatments.

It is currently unclear if temazepam can be passed to your baby in breast milk [1][4], so it is not certain whether it is safe to take temazepam while breastfeeding. If it is deemed a necessary treatment, it is advised you use it with caution and monitor your baby for any unusual physical or mental changes. However, this should only be done after discussing it with your doctor and heeding their medical advice.

There have been several reports of people on temazepam engaging in sleepwalking, or doing other activities while asleep, without any knowledge.[1][2] If you discover that you have been doing anything while sleeping or without memory of these actions, consult with your doctor, as it may be very unsafe.

It is possible to develop a physical or mental dependence or addiction to temazepam. As such, it may not be advisable for you to utilize this medication if you have previously experienced an alcohol or substance dependency. 

Depending on your dose and the length of time you have taken temazepam, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication. Your doctor will likely reduce your prescription slowly, to help prevent this. It is important to follow their advice and prescription carefully during this process, to prevent withdrawal symptoms or misusing your medication.

Temazepam can make you feel drowsy, while it can also cause blurred vision, so it is advised not to drive while on this medication, or until you know how it will affect you and it is safe to do so. 

There may also be an increased risk of falls while taking this medication, due to its sedative effect, so caution is advised, especially in elderly patients.

Temazepam interactions

Opioid medications should not be taken while you are taking temazepam, as this can greatly increase the risk of overdose, increased sedation, shallow breathing, coma, or even death.[1][2]

Some other medications can also interact with temazepam, increasing the risk of serious side effects, such as a dangerous level of sedation and slowing of the central nervous system. These include antihistamines, antidepressants, other sedatives or sleeping medications, and medications for anxiety or seizures.

Alcohol and illicit drugs should not be taken while on temazepam, as they can increase the risk of heart or breathing problems, overdose, and side effects.

Temazepam storage

Always keep all medications out of reach of children.

Store temazepam in its original packaging, in airtight containers, and at room temperature (between 68 and 77°F).

If you need to dispose of medication that is out of date or no longer needed, contact a healthcare professional to ensure it is disposed of appropriately. Never flush medications down the toilet or put them in the bin, as this can create unnecessary risks.

What to do if you overdose on temazepam

If you overdose on temazepam, call a medical professional, or Poison Control on 1-800-222-1222, or in case of an emergency, call 911. Symptoms of a temazepam overdose include confusion, breathing difficulties, fainting, coma, or even death.

FAQs

How long does it take for temazepam to work?

Temazepam may improve your sleep from the first dose, taken just before you go to bed. For some people, it may take up to 10 days to notice improvements. It has been found to be very successful in treating insomnia within this time period. [1][5][6]

If your sleep problems have not improved in this time, consult with your doctor.

Is temazepam addictive?

Yes, temazepam can be addictive, especially if taken for extended periods of time and in high doses. [1][2][4] Therefore, it is advised to take temazepam exactly as prescribed, for no longer than 10 nights consecutively, and to never misuse the medication.

Temazepam vs diazepam: what’s the difference?

Temazepam and diazepam are both benzodiazepine medications. Diazepam continues to affect the individual for a much longer period of time than temazepam.[7] While temazepam can completely leave your system in 24 hours, diazepam may take several days.

Temazepam and other short-acting benzodiazepines are typically used to treat sleep disorders, as they have a strong sedative effect, but tend not to cause a ‘hangover’ feeling the following morning. Diazepam and other long-acting benzodiazepines are typically used to treat anxiety disorders, as they have a longer-lasting effect, although they may be more likely to create this groggy feeling.[5][7][8]

Temazepam can be more likely to leave you with withdrawal symptoms, because of how quickly it leaves your system. However, this is dependent on your dose and length of use.

Both medications can cause dependency and withdrawal symptoms, so should always be used with caution, ensuring you follow your doctor’s advice and prescription carefully, never taking more than you are prescribed, or for longer than prescribed.

Resources:

  1. Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. (2016). Restoril Medication Guide. Access Data FDA. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/018163s064lbl.pdf
  2. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. (Revised 2021). Temazepam. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684003.html
  3. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (2018). Drug Scheduling. DEA. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2022). Compound Summary for CID 5391, Temazepam. PubChem. Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Temazepam
  5. Heel, C., Brogden, R.N., Speight, T.M., & Avery, G.S. (1981). Temazepam: A Review of its Pharmacological Properties and Therapeutic Efficacy as an Hypnotic. Drugs21, 321–340. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.2165/00003495-198121050-00001
  6. McElnay, J. C., Jones, M. E., & Alexander, B. (1982). Temazepam (Restoril, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals). Drug Intelligence & Clinical Pharmacy16(9), 650–656. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1177/106002808201600902
  7. Genentech USA, Inc. (2016). Valium (Diazepam) Medication Guide. Access Data FDA. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/013263s094lbl.pdf
  8. Mind. (2021). Comparing Benzodiazepines. Mind. Retrieved from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/sleeping-pills-and-minor-tranquillisers/comparing-benzodiazepines/