Zaleplon Side Effects, Drug Interactions, & Warnings

Zaleplon is a central nervous system depressant that has legitimate prescription uses. The potential for abuse is low in comparison to benzodiazepines, which are used to treat similar conditions.

Zaleplon (also known under the brand name Sonata) is a non-benzodiazepine central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is usually used for the short-term treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Zaleplon works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain which slows down brain activity, making it easier to get a full night’s sleep.

This prescription drug is also classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means that it has a relatively low potential for abuse and dependence. However, zaleplon is still habit-forming and is associated with side effects, adverse events, and warnings.

Side Effects Of Zaleplon

Zaleplon comes with side effects that can range from moderate to severe and serious.

The most common side effects of zaleplon may include:

  • next-day drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • problems with coordination
  • numbness or prickly feeling on the skin
  • lightheadedness
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • vision problems
  • eye pain
  • sensitivity to noise
  • distorted sense of smell
  • painful menstrual periods
  • sleep-driving and sleepwalking

Some of the most serious side effects of zaleplon may include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • aggression
  • agitation
  • memory loss
  • thoughts of hurting yourself
  • confusion
  • hallucinations

If you experience any of these side effects, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Zaleplon Drug Interactions

There are also drugs that don’t mix well with zaleplon and can lead to life-threatening effects.

Some of the drugs that shouldn’t be taken with this sedative-hypnotic include:

  • supplements
  • alcohol
  • antidepressants
  • antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • barbiturates
  • cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • over-the-counter cough and cold medicines
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • muscle relaxants
  • opioid pain relievers
  • rifampin (Rifadin)
  • other sleeping pills like zolpidem (Ambien)
  • tranquilizers

Zaleplon Warnings

Beyond the side effects of zaleplon and the drugs it negatively interacts with, there are also several warnings you should be aware of. These warnings can tell you what health conditions the drug won’t work with and what risks are involved when taking the medication.

Medical Conditions

There are also several medical conditions that zaleplon does not work well with.

Zaleplon can actually make the following conditions worse:

  • depression
  • seizures
  • lung disease
  • breathing problems
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • drug or alcohol addiction

Taking zaleplon is also not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. For those who are breastfeeding, the drug can transfer from the breast milk to the baby and lead to serious side effects.

If you are pregnant and taking zaleplon, talk to your healthcare provider. They can put you on a different medication or they can tell you exactly what the risks are if you can’t quit taking the sleep medicine.

Allergic Reaction

If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in zaleplon, aspirin, or tartrazine (a yellow dye), zaleplon is probably not the right medication for you.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • hives
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • hoarseness
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing


One of the major risks that come with abusing zaleplon or taking higher than recommended doses is overdose. A zaleplon overdose can be life-threatening if left untreated.

If you or a loved one shows any of the following signs and symptoms, call 911 immediately:

  • confusion
  • severe drowsiness
  • low blood pressure
  • feeling sluggish
  • troubled breathing/respiratory depression
  • problems with coordination
  • floppy muscles
  • coma

Withdrawal Symptoms

Zaleplon abuse may not be common, but when it does occur, it can lead to dependence. When you build up a dependence on the drug and then quit taking it, withdrawal symptoms are likely to show up. This is your body’s response to the absence of a drug that it has gotten used to.

Zaleplon withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • muscle weakness
  • sweating
  • restlessness
  • rebound insomnia
  • trouble sleeping
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • hallucinations
  • seizures

Find Help For A Substance Use Disorder

If you or a loved one live with an addiction to sleep medications, please contact us today to learn how we can help.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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