Asleep at the Wheel

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Asleep at the Wheel

Post by doety »

I can't remember if I've asked this before.
I've been taking Methadone for about 2 years, now at 20 mg each night.
Yesterday I was driving home, went to sleep and woke up headed for the median in the road. I've done this twice before, but it was later in the afternoon. I've tried to be careful, not to go out at late in the day, not drive on long trips, etc. I think it may be a combination of never getting enough sleep, but also being on Methadone.
What do you think? I also bike a lot, sometimes hours each day. I think it would be impossible to go to sleep doing that, but Lord, I could get in some real trouble either way.

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Post by Neco »

It could be the Methadone, some people have trouble with Methadone causing drowsiness.

How come you're not getting enough sleep? Is it RLS or just don't want to go to bed / insomnia ? I think addressing that first would be a good step.

You can try reducing your dose as well, try taking less than 20mg, but splitting it into more than one dose.

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Post by doety »

It seems to me that I'm getting enough sleep. A couple of months ago, my doc increased it from 15 to 20 and that's helped so much. But I've always wondered -- when we finally do get some sleep, aided by medication, are we getting the right "type" of sleep and/or does that matter.
I'm pretty sure if I take less at night, I won't go to sleep. And I guess I wonder why I would take it during the day -- seems like that would increase bouts of drowsiness.

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Post by ViewsAskew »

I'd wonder if you were getting good sleep and enough sleep. A sleep study might help. You also could simply have something else going on non-related I suppose...

No matter what, I can imagine how scary that must be! In 4 years taking methadone, I've never fallen asleep doing anything important.

Since my 20's, I've had "sleep attacks." Not sure what causes them, but assume a blood sugar issue. Tests show everything is fine, so who knows. I just get exceedingly tired and CANNOT keep my eyes open. My whole body goes limp as a wave of something flows through me and relaxes every muscle. They come and go - I can go years without them, then have them two or three times a day for weeks.

Doubt that helped you much, though...
Ann - Take what you need, leave the rest

Managing Your RLS

Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

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Post by Wayne »

I've experienced that sleep wave once or twice. The last was maybe 10 years ago which was pre-RLS and pre any medications. I was on business in Miami and wasn't due in the office until mid-afternoon. I arrived the night before, so I slept late at the hotel, had breakfast then watched TV for a while, had lunch and left for the 30 min drive into the city.

About 10 mins into the drive a wave of calm/sleep passed through me and I was fighting to stay awake. Weird. I managed to stay awake, and by the time I got to the destination I was wide-awake again.

I remember that clearly and fondly now because I have so much trouble falling asleep, that I would welcome that feeling again. Not while driving of course.

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Post by Maria »

doety: I’ve been taking methadone since January and can say my sleep feels as if it is of a better quality that when I was on Mirapex/Ambien for four years. I feel more like myself.

I’m now pretty sure I will have to increase to 12.5 mg from 10mg. as I’m waking at midnight a couple of times a week with rls symptoms. Adding 2.5 mg when that happens takes care of it fairly quickly. I’m also lucky I rarely have rls in the daytime (except on a plane of a long day of meetings, sitting, etc. – nothing that can’t be relieved with movement).

As to sleepiness, I am *quite* sure that my daytime sleepiness is caused by methadone. I have never experienced anything quite like this, and it began when I started taking methadone. Here’s an example; yesterday I was fighting sleep while sitting in my hair dresser’s chair having a conversation! I actually dozed off to the point that I couldn’t remember what she was saying.

I’ve mentioned this sleepiness in a couple of other posts and to my doctor. He said taking my methadone all at once at bedtime might be my best bet, but that hasn’t really worked.

Sometimes if I can get a 10” nap in the car or somewhere else it helps tremendously. It is now summer and 90 degrees where I live so that is impossible, and I am starting to worry about driving. It’s amazingly difficult to find a place to rest ones head for a few minutes away from home!! :?

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Post by Aiken »


First, and sorry to say the obvious, but I want to make sure it's said: Please don't drive again until you address the problem. You could easily kill or injure both yourself and/or multiple other people. You could also end up in jail on a DUI charge. It's just not safe. We don't want to see you disappear because you're in jail, a coma, or a grave. Find a friend or family member who can drive you for the time being.

That said...

I had to switch from only taking methadone to taking just a little amount of methadone for the day and then a shorter-lived peak of hydrocodone in the evening, for exactly these reasons. I wasn't falling asleep at the wheel, thank god, but I was definitely having a hard time staying awake at work, and would need to go take 10-15 minute naps in the lounge just to reset enough to get things done. I wasn't taking as much as you are, so it's not at all surprising that you might be having real trouble with drowsiness because of the methadone.

That said, it's true that the kind of sleep an opioid gives you is potentially different from regular sleep. It can go both ways, but if you're using the opioid to sedate yourself, then it's likely different from natural sleep. I find that it's best for me to use only enough to feel comfortable in bed, but not enough to knock me out. Your mileage and options may vary, though.
Disclaimer: I often talk about what I do and what works for me, but these are specific to me and you should always consult a healthcare professional before trying these things yourself, lest you endanger your health or life.

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