1. About temazepam
Temazepam belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. It’s used to treat sleeping problems (insomnia).
It can also be taken to help you relax before an operation or other medical or dental treatments. This is known as a “pre-med”. It comes as tablets or as a liquid that you swallow. Temazepam is available on prescription only.
2. Key facts
- The most common side effects include feeling drowsy or lightheaded, and having a dry mouth.
- It’s not recommended to use temazepam for longer than 4 weeks.
- If temazepam affects your eyesight or makes you feel sleepy, dizzy or confused, do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel OK again.
- Do not drink alcohol when taking temazepam.
3. Who can and can’t take temazepam
Temazepam can be taken by adults over the age of 18. It’s not suitable for everyone.
To make sure it’s safe for you, tell your doctor before starting temazepam if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to temazepam or any other medicine in the past
- have myasthenia gravis, a condition that causes muscle weakness
- have sleep apnoea, a condition that causes breathing problems when you’re asleep
- have severe lung or liver problems
- have a mental health problem, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, personality disorder or thoughts of suicide
- have acute narrow angle glaucoma, a condition that affects the eye
- are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or breastfeeding
4. How and when to take it
- You’ll usually take it once a day, half an hour before bedtime.
- It’s important to take it exactly as your doctor has told you. Your doctor may recommend taking it only 2 or 3 nights a week.
- Take temazepam tablets or liquid with a drink of water. You can take it with or without food.
- Liquid temazepam comes with a syringe or spoon to help you take the right amount.
- Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give you the right amount.
- If you do not have a syringe or spoon, ask your pharmacist for one.
How much will I take?
- The usual dose for sleep problems is 10 to 20mg half an hour before going to bed.
- In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose of 30 to 40mg.
- If you’re over 65 and at risk of falling over, your dose may be lower.
How long will I take it for?
You’ll usually take temazepam for no longer than 4 weeks.
What if I forget to take it?
If you forget to take it by bedtime, just start again the next night.
What if I take too much?
The amount of temazepam that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.
Urgent advice: Call your doctor or go to A&E straight away if you take too much temazepam
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance. Take the temazepam packet or the leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, temazepam can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.
Common side effects
These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- disturbed sleep (such as vivid dreams)
- feeling drowsy, tired, less alert or “hungover” the next day
- feeling lightheaded, unsteady or dizzy
- a dry mouth
Serious side effects
It happens rarely, but some people have serious side effects when taking temazepam.
Tell a doctor straight away if you get any of the following side effects:
- yellow skin, or the whites of your eyes turn yellow – this can be a sign of liver problems
- difficulty peeing or peeing less than usual
- an abnormal heartbeat (palpitations)
- changes in the way you feel or act, such as feeling numb or restless, agitated, aggressive or acting inappropriately
- you think things that are not true (delusions) or you see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations)
- poor co-ordination or weak muscles
- slurred speech
- memory loss or confusion
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, temazepam may cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you’re wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of temazepam.
For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects
- disturbed sleep (such as vivid dreams) – speak to your doctor; they may suggest a different medicine or a lower dose.
- feeling lightheaded, unsteady or dizzy – try to lie down or sit down until it passes. Do not try to drive or use machinery until you feel completely normal again. If the symptoms do not disappear after a few days or get worse, consult your doctor.
- feeling drowsy, tired, less alert or “hungover” the next day – speak to your doctor; they may suggest a lower dose. Do not drive or use machinery until you feel better.
- dry mouth – if this bothers you, try taking sips of water and keep some water by your bed at night. Using a mouthwash before bedtime may also help. Ask your pharmacist to recommend one that’s good for a dry mouth, as some can make a dry mouth worse.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Temazepam is not usually recommended during pregnancy.
- If you become pregnant while taking temazepam, speak to your doctor. They’ll want to review your medicine.
- You may need to keep taking temazepam during pregnancy to remain well.
- Your doctor can explain the risks and the benefits to help you decide which treatment is best for you and your baby.
If you’re having sleeping problems, talk to your doctor or pharmacist as there may be other ways of improving your sleep that do not involve taking temazepam.
But if your doctor or health visitor says your baby is healthy, temazepam can be used during breastfeeding at low doses occasionally, or for a short time. Temazepam passes into breast milk in small amounts, but it’s unlikely to cause any side effects in your baby.
If you take temazepam while you’re breastfeeding and you notice that your baby’s not feeding as well as usual, seems unusually sleepy, or you have any other concerns about them, talk to your health visitor or doctor as soon as possible.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you’re:
- trying to get pregnant
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and temazepam can interfere with each other and increase the chances of you having side effects. Before you start taking temazepam, tell your doctor if you’re taking:
- antipsychotics, used to treat mental health problems
- antidepressants, used to treat depression
- anticonvulsants, used to treat epilepsy
- hypnotics, used to treat anxiety or sleep problems
- drowsy (sedating) antihistamines, such as chlorphenamine or promethazine
- strong painkillers, such as codeine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, pethidine or tramadol
- medicine for fungal infections, such as fluconazole
- medicines that lower your blood pressure
- medicine to treat muscle spasms, such as baclofen or tizanidine
- disulfiram, used to treat alcohol addiction
- levodopa, used to treat Parkinson’s disease
- lofexidine, used to treat drug addiction
- theophylline, used to treat asthma
- ritonavir, used to treat HIV
9. Common questions
- How does temazepam work?
Temazepam belongs to a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. It works by increasing the levels of a calming chemical in your brain called gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). This can make you feel drowsy and sleepy.
- How long does it take to work?
It normally takes around 30 minutes to work.
- How long will I take temazepam for?
Temazepam is usually prescribed for a short period of time of up to 4 weeks.
- Is temazepam addictive?
Temazepam is not likely to be addictive if you take it at a low dose for a short time (2 to 4 weeks). You're more likely to get addicted if you have or have had problems with alcohol or drugs. It's also more likely if you take more than your prescribed dose or take it for longer than 4 weeks.
- Are there other medicines for sleeping problems?
There are other medicines that can help with sleeping problems, including melatonin, zopiclone, zaleplon and zolpidem. Like temazepam, these should only be used for short periods of time.
- Will it affect my contraception?
Temazepam does not affect how contraception works, including the combined pill and emergency contraception.
- Can I drink alcohol with it?
Do not drink alcohol while you're on temazepam. Alcohol can increase the effects of temazepam and make you go into a very deep sleep. There's a risk you will not be able to breathe properly and you may have difficulty waking up.
- Are there foods and drinks I should avoid?
It's best to avoid caffeine, especially in the evening. Caffeine is a stimulant and may reduce the calming effects of temazepam. Drinks that contain caffeine include coffee, tea and cola. Do not drink alcohol while you're on temazepam.
Alcohol can increase the effects of temazepam and make you go into a very deep sleep. There's a risk you will not be able to breathe properly and you may have difficulty waking up.
- Can I drive or ride a bike while I'm taking temazepam?
Do not drive a car or ride a bike if temazepam makes you sleepy, gives you blurred vision, or makes you feel dizzy, clumsy or unable to concentrate or make decisions.
This may be more likely when you first start taking temazepam, but could happen at any time – for example, when starting another medicine. It's an offence to drive a car if your ability to drive safely is affected.
It's your responsibility to decide if it's safe to drive. If you're in any doubt, do not drive. Even if your ability to drive is not affected, the police have the right to request a saliva sample to check how much temazepam is in your body.
GOV.UK has more information on the law on drugs and driving.Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're unsure whether it's safe for you to drive while taking temazepam.
- Can I operate machinery or tools while I'm taking it?
Do not operate machinery or tools while taking temazepam until you know how it affects you. It's important to leave at least an 8-hour gap between taking temazepam and operating tools or machinery. If you leave less than 8 hours, there might still be enough temazepam left in your body that could affect your concentration, vision or memory.
- Can I take temazepam with me if I'm travelling abroad?
It depends on which country you're travelling to. Different countries have different rules and regulations for temazepam. It's important to plan ahead and find out whether you can take your medicine abroad. It's best to only take the amount you need while abroad.
You can contact the embassy for the country you're visiting. The GOV.UK website has a full list of foreign embassies in the UK.
- Will recreational drugs affect it?
Using cannabis with temazepam will make its sleep-inducing effects worse. You could go into a very deep sleep, where you have difficulty waking up. Using heroin or methadone with temazepam may also increase the sedative effects of both of them.
Again, you could go into a very deep sleep and have difficulty waking up. Talk to your doctor if you think you might use recreational drugs while you're taking temazepam.
- Can lifestyle changes help?
There are a number of things you can do to help yourself beat insomnia:
-set regular times for going to bed and waking up
-relax before bedtime – try taking a warm bath or listening to calming music
-use thick curtains or blinds, an eye mask and earplugs to stop you being woken up by light and noise
-avoid caffeine, cigarettes (or e-cigarettes), alcohol, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed
-do not watch TV or use phones, tablets or computers just before going to bed
-do not nap during the day
-write a list of your worries, and any ideas about how to solve them, before you go to bed to help you forget about them until the morning
- Do not take any medicines or herbal remedies that make you feel sleepy while taking temazepam.
- They can increase the drowsy-making (sedating) effects of your medicine.