Does Xanax Make You Drowsy and Sleepy?

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Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, is a widely prescribed medication primarily used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. As a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs, Xanax exerts its effects by targeting the brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, resulting in a calming and soothing effect.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with dependence on Xanax, other prescription medications, or illicit substances, Guardian Recovery can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

One of the primary effects of Xanax is drowsiness, often experienced by individuals taking the medication. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, drowsiness is a common side effect of Xanax, affecting approximately 41% of patients who use the drug. This drowsiness can show up as feelings of sleepiness, fatigue, or lethargy and may impair an individual’s ability to perform tasks requiring alertness.

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Does Xanax Cause Relaxation & Sedation?

Alongside drowsiness, Xanax also induces relaxation and sedation. By increasing the activity of GABA, Xanax enhances signaling in the brain, reducing anxiety and promoting a state of calmness. This relaxation effect is particularly beneficial for individuals with anxiety disorders who experience persistent feelings of tension and worry.

The sedative properties of Xanax can also help manage acute episodes of panic attacks. The drug works by dampening the excessive electrical activity in the brain associated with panic, providing relief and reducing the intensity of symptoms. It is important to note that while Xanax can be highly effective in managing anxiety and panic, it should only be used as prescribed by a healthcare professional due to the potential for misuse and dependency.

How Xanax Slows Down Activity in the Brain

Xanax functions as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant by acting on GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for reducing neuronal activity and promoting relaxation. Xanax enhances the effect of GABA, resulting in decreased brain activity, including reduced anxiety, muscle tension, and seizure activity.

How Long Do the Sedative Effects Last?

The duration of Xanax’s sedative effects can vary depending on several factors, including an individual’s metabolism, dosage, and overall health. Xanax is available in immediate-release and extended-release formulations. Immediate-release tablets usually provide relief for approximately four to six hours, while extended-release formulations can last up to 12 hours. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for specific information regarding the duration of the sedative effects of Xanax based on individual circumstances.

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What Are the Side Effects of Xanax’s Depressant Properties?

While Xanax can be beneficial for managing anxiety and panic disorders, it is important to be aware of potential side effects associated with its depressant properties. Alongside drowsiness, common side effects may include:

  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Impaired coordination and dizziness.
  • Memory impairment and confusion.
  • Reduced alertness and difficulty concentrating.
  • Slurred speech and slowed reaction time.

Xanax may also have more serious side effects contradictory to the common ones, such as increased anxiety, agitation, and aggression. It can also cause physical and psychological dependence, especially when used for prolonged periods or at higher doses than prescribed. It is crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and promptly discuss any concerns or adverse effects with a healthcare professional.

Is Xanax Better Taken at Night or in the Morning?

Determining the optimal time to take Xanax, whether in the morning or at night, depends on individual factors and why it’s been prescribed.

If you suffer from anxiety or panic disorders, taking Xanax in the morning may be beneficial as it helps alleviate symptoms throughout the day. On the other hand, you may find that taking Xanax at night is more advantageous if you need it to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.

It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to establish the most appropriate dosing schedule for your specific needs. They can consider factors such as the severity of symptoms, potential side effects, and the desired therapeutic effects to guide the decision-making process.

Is Xanax Prescribed as a Sleep Aid?

While Xanax (alprazolam) may induce drowsiness and relaxation, it is not typically recommended as a primary sleep aid. Xanax belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs primarily prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. While it can have sedative effects, using Xanax as a sleep aid can lead to dependency and tolerance, making it less effective over time.

Using benzodiazepines for sleep may interfere with your natural sleep cycle and can result in rebound insomnia when you stop taking them. Healthcare professionals often prescribe other medications specifically designed for sleep, such as non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics or medications targeting specific sleep disorders.

What Should You Not Do After Taking Xanax?

After taking Xanax (alprazolam), it is important to follow certain precautions to ensure your safety and well-being. Here are some things you should not do after taking Xanax:

  • Operate Heavy Machinery or Drive — Xanax can cause drowsiness and dizziness and impair coordination and reaction time.
  • Consume Alcohol — Combining Xanax with alcohol can intensify its sedative effects and lead to excessive drowsiness, impaired judgment, and respiratory depression. It is strongly advised to avoid alcohol while taking Xanax to prevent dangerous interactions and potential overdose.
  • Take Other Sedatives or Depressants — Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Combining it with other sedatives or depressants, such as opioids, sleep aids, or muscle relaxants, can increase their effects and the risk of respiratory depression, overdose, and even death.
  • Stop Xanax Abruptly — Going “cold turkey” Xanax can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including rebound anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and potentially severe withdrawal reactions. Following your healthcare professional’s directions is crucial when discontinuing Xanax or adjusting the dosage.
  • Mix Xanax with Certain Medications — Xanax can interact with various medications, including certain antidepressants, antifungal medications, antibiotics, and antiviral drugs. These interactions can affect the effectiveness of Xanax or increase the risk of side effects. Be sure your healthcare professional knows about all the medications you are taking to ensure safe and appropriate use.
  • Take Xanax Without a Prescription — Xanax is a prescription medication that should only be used under the supervision and guidance of a healthcare professional. Using Xanax without a prescription or taking higher doses than prescribed can lead to misuse, dependency, and serious health risks.

While the sedative effects of Xanax can be highly beneficial, it is important to be aware of potential side effects, including drowsiness, fatigue, and impaired coordination. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and adhere to the prescribed dosage to ensure the safe and effective use of Xanax.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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