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Is it Safe to Take an Off-label Prescription Sleeping Pill? The Answer May Surprise You!

Do you know what the difference is between an on-label and an off-label prescription medication? Were you recently prescribed a medication for one of its off-label uses? And, if so, is that medication supposed to help you sleep at night? The truth is that whether you are taking an on-label or off-label prescription medicine, you should be wary of its potential side effects. This is especially true with prescription sleep aids.

Be Aware of the Most Common Off-label Prescription Sleeping Pills

Most people barely know the names of common on label prescription sleeping pills. So don't feel bad if you have no clue which medications are prescribed off label to help with sleep problems. We commend you for finding this page because that likely means you want to learn more about these medications and what they can do for you. While some of them might be able to help you resolve certain sleep problems, others could have unfortunate side effects or make your insomnia worse.

It's important to have a thorough discussion with both your doctor and your pharmacist regarding all of your prescription medications - off label ones especially. You should start by asking your doctor why they prescribed you an off-label medication and why they believe the risks are worth the reward. At the pharmacy, be sure to discuss the medication with your pharmacist and make sure there aren't any side effects or potentially bad interactions with your other medications. The more well-informed you are, the easier it'll be to get a better night's rest.

Obviously, you're going to want to take your doctor's advice over most of the random information you find on the internet. But that doesn't mean the information we're presenting to you on this page is without value. Doctors are human, and sometimes they make mistakes. So if your doctor failed to mention any of the side effects or other complications that you read here, make sure you have a discussion with them about whether or not your off label prescription sleeping pill is truly the right choice for you.

off label sleeping pills


Mirtazapine is the generic name for Remeron in the United States. In addition to almost all other off-label prescription sleep aids, it's meant to be used as an antidepressant. Most antidepressants are SSRIs, but Mirtazapine is different. It's common to prescribe Mirtazapine off-label for sleep in patients whose sleeplessness is rooted in an anxiety disorder.

Mirtazapine has another practical uses as well. It helps reduce nausea and stops people from vomiting uncontrollably. It is also prescribed to underweight people in order to stimulate their appetite. One of the strongest side effects of Mirtazapine is drowsiness, which is why it's such a popular prescription sleep medication.

The other side effects of Mirtazapine you should be aware of include:

If you are overweight, if you already have high triglyceride levels, if your cholesterol levels are not within a healthy range, or any combination of the above, you should have a talk with your doctor and ask them why they think taking this medication for your sleep problems is worth the risk to your cardiovascular health.


Amitriptyline is quite possibly the most often prescribed off-label sleep medication. In its early years, it was marketed heavily for depression, anxiety, and for people suffering from bipolar disorder. There is also some evidence that it could be helpful with ADHD, but that evidence is scarce. Amitriptyline was one of the first medications ever developed for depression and related depressive disorders.

As much as amitriptyline promises to help, the unwanted side effects can be very unpleasant:

The daytime drowsiness and nighttime restlessness is disconcerting, seeing as how amitriptyline is prescribed in order to solve those problems - not make them worse. It differs from mirtazapine in that you may suffer negative sexual side effects in addition to all of the other drawbacks. And if you have any blood pressure issues at all, then mirtazapine may not be right for you.


Trazodone is yet another anxiety targeting antidepressant. It has many things in common with the other medications on this list so far, but it does have different mechanisms of action in the body. As you'll notice, some of the negative side effects of trazodone are quite different then the side effects we've gone over so far:

Clearly, trazodone should be avoided if you are struggling with any serious cardiovascular issues. It should likewise be avoided if you are having problems with your liver. The daytime drowsiness side effect is also a cause for concern.

Why Are Antidepressants the Most Common Off-label Prescription Sleep Medication?

We're sure you've noticed - as have we - that there is a pattern forming here. The top three most commonly prescribed medicines for sleep problems are also antidepressants. If you think about it, it makes sense. But in other ways, it can make these medications more dangerous to take. This is especially true for people who don't actually have clinical depression.

It does make sense to prescribe antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help people sleep, especially if drowsiness is the main side effect of the medication. Most people struggle to sleep at night because their brain is so busy worrying and suffering from anxious thoughts that they can't relax. They also may have an underlying, undiagnosed depressive disorder which their insomnia is a symptom of. Those people especially can get multiple benefits from these types of prescriptions, assuming the side effects are minimal.

But these medications aren't for everybody. When prescribed as an antidepressant, doctors often give very different dosing instructions for these medications compared to when they are used as a sleeping pill - which is a huge cause for concern. The side effects of antidepressants in a non depressed person could also be more exaggerated since their body chemistry is different. At the end of the day, there are so many question marks and red flags when it comes to using prescription antidepressants as an off-label sleeping pill that we aren't sure how this trend ever got started in the first place.

If you want a healthier, safer alternative, we strongly suggest you take a look at our product reviews to find something better. The products we review are safe, affordable, and don't require prescription. They are great at helping people get the rest they need without the dangerous side effects of prescription medications.