Can Suboxone make you sleepy? Discover the surprising link between Suboxone and drowsiness12 min read

Suboxone is a medication commonly used to treat opioid addiction, but some individuals have reported experiencing sleepiness as a side effect. In this article, we will delve into the potential reasons behind this drowsiness and explore factors that can influence its onset. Let’s uncover the mechanisms through which Suboxone interacts with the body, understand why some individuals may be more prone to feeling sleepy, and explore ways to manage this side effect effectively.

  • Understanding Suboxone’s Composition: Before delving into the sleepiness aspect, it’s crucial to comprehend the components of Suboxone and how they function in the body.
  • How Suboxone Interacts with the Body: We will explore the specific mechanisms of action through which Suboxone affects the central nervous system and how this can lead to drowsiness.
  • Factors Influencing Sleepiness: Various factors, including individual sensitivity, dosage, and concomitant substance use, can contribute to the degree of sleepiness experienced.
  • Ways to Manage Sleepiness: If you’re experiencing drowsiness while taking Suboxone, there are practical steps you can take to alleviate this side effect.
  • The Importance of Compliance and Monitoring: Adhering to prescribed guidelines and regularly monitoring your symptoms are crucial aspects of managing Suboxone-related sleepiness.
  • Exploring Alternative Medications: In some cases, alternative medications or treatment approaches may be considered to mitigate sleepiness while maintaining effective opioid addiction treatment.

Understanding Suboxone’s Composition

Suboxone is a combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it activates opioid receptors in the brain, but to a lesser extent than full agonists like heroin or oxyco Naloxone, on the other hand, is an opioid antagonist, which blocks the effects of opioids. This combination is used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals with opioid addiction.

How Suboxone Interacts with the Body

When Suboxone is taken, buprenorphine binds to opioid receptors, reducing the craving for opioids and preventing withdrawal symptoms. This interaction with the brain’s reward system can also lead to drowsiness as a side effect. Buprenorphine’s effects on certain neurotransmitters in the brain can cause sedation, particularly in higher doses or when used for the first time.

Neurotransmitter Effects

Buprenorphine’s interaction with the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, can have calming effects, leading to drowsiness. Additionally, the drug’s long half-life may accumulate in the system, further contributing to sleepiness.

  • Dopamine: Buprenorphine can influence dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and relaxation, potentially causing sedation.
  • Serotonin: Serotonin, which regulates mood and sleep, may be affected by Suboxone, contributing to drowsiness.

Impact on Central Nervous System

Suboxone’s interaction with the central nervous system can also result in drowsiness. The drug’s ability to depress the nervous system, combined with its long duration of action, can lead to a sense of lethargy and fatigue.

  • Depression of the Central Nervous System: Buprenorphine’s partial agonist activity can slow down the central nervous system, leading to sleepiness and reduced alertness.
  • Long Duration of Action: Suboxone’s effects can last for several hours, and its sedative properties may persist, causing prolonged drowsiness.

Factors Influencing Sleepiness

Individual Sensitivity to Suboxone

Some individuals may be more sensitive to the sedative effects of Suboxone due to variations in their metabolism or brain chemistry. Factors such as age, genetics, and overall health can also play a role in how the body responds to the medication.

Genetic Factors

Genetic variations can influence how enzymes process Suboxone in the body, affecting its overall impact and the likelihood of experiencing sleepiness. Genetic testing can provide valuable insights into an individual’s response to the medication.

  • CYP450 Enzymes: Specific enzymes, such as CYP3A4 and CYP2B6, play a crucial role in metabolizing Suboxone. Genetic variations in these enzymes can impact drug metabolism.
  • Opioid Receptor Genes: Variations in genes coding for opioid receptors can affect how the body responds to buprenorphine, potentially influencing sleepiness.

Past Substance Abuse History

Individuals with a history of substance abuse may experience different side effects, including sleepiness, when taking Suboxone. Tolerance to opioids and other substances can influence how the body reacts to the medication.

  • Previous Opioid Use: Those with a history of opioid use may have a different response to Suboxone due to previous exposure to opioids.
  • Drug Interactions: Past substance use can also lead to drug interactions that affect the metabolism and effects of Suboxone.

Dosage and Administration

The prescribed dosage of Suboxone can impact the severity of sleepiness experienced by individuals undergoing opioid addiction treatment.

Impact of Different Dosages

Higher doses of Suboxone may have a more pronounced sedative effect, while lower doses might cause less sleepiness. Healthcare providers carefully titrate the dosage to balance its therapeutic effects with potential side effects.

  • Starting Dose: Initial doses are typically lower to assess an individual’s response and minimize the risk of severe sleepiness.
  • Titrating the Dosage: Dosage adjustments may be made over time to achieve the optimal balance between effectiveness and side effects.

Time-Release Formulations

Certain Suboxone formulations, such as extended-release tablets or films, can affect how the medication is released in the body, potentially influencing the duration of sleepiness.

  • Extended-Release Suboxone: Extended-release formulations may lead to prolonged drowsiness compared to immediate-release versions.
  • Individual Response: Some individuals may experience varying degrees of sleepiness with different formulations.

Combining Suboxone with Other Substances

Alcohol and Sedatives

Combining Suboxone with alcohol or other sedatives can intensify the sedative effects of both substances. This combination can lead to increased drowsiness, impaired coordination, and respiratory depression, posing serious health risks.

Potential Risks

  • Central Nervous System Depression: Alcohol and sedatives depress the central nervous system, leading to heightened drowsiness and potential respiratory suppression.
  • Risk of Overdose: The combination of Suboxone with other depressants can increase the risk of overdose, especially if individuals exceed recommended doses.
  • Impaired Judgment: The mixture can impair cognitive function and decision-making abilities, leading to dangerous situations.

Stimulants and Antidepressants

Mixing Suboxone with stimulants or antidepressants can have complex effects on the body. While stimulants may counteract some of the sedative effects, the combination can still lead to unpredictable reactions.

Interactions and Side Effects

  • Counteracting Effects: Stimulants may mask some symptoms of drowsiness, leading individuals to underestimate the impact of Suboxone on their alertness.
  • Mood Changes: The interaction between Suboxone and antidepressants can lead to mood swings and changes in sleep patterns.
  • Cardiovascular Risks: Some stimulants and antidepressants can affect heart rate and blood pressure, potentially increasing cardiovascular risks.

Potential Drug Interactions

Suboxone can interact with other medications, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, leading to unexpected side effects, including drowsiness.

Medication Combinations to Avoid

  • Benzodiazepines: Combining Suboxone with benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, can result in severe sedation and respiratory depression.
  • Antihistamines: Some antihistamines can enhance the sedative effects of Suboxone, leading to excessive drowsiness.
  • Muscle Relaxants: Suboxone combined with muscle relaxants can increase the risk of drowsiness and impaired motor function.

Duration of Suboxone Use

Short-term vs. Long-term Use

The duration of Suboxone use can influence an individual’s response to the medication. While sleepiness may be more common during the initial stages of treatment, some individuals may experience prolonged drowsiness with long-term use.

Tolerance and Adaptation

  • Initial Sleepiness: Sleepiness may be more pronounced when individuals first start using Suboxone, as their bodies adjust to the medication.
  • Tolerance Development: Over time, the body may develop a tolerance to the sedative effects of Suboxone, reducing the intensity of sleepiness.
  • Individual Variability: The rate of tolerance development can vary widely among different individuals.

Withdrawal Effects on Sleep

During Suboxone tapering or discontinuation, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms that can disrupt their sleep patterns.

  • Insomnia: Sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, are common during withdrawal.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome: Some individuals may experience restless legs syndrome, a condition that causes discomfort and an irresistible urge to move the legs, disrupting sleep.

Ways to Manage Sleepiness

Consulting a Healthcare Provider

If you’re experiencing significant sleepiness while taking Suboxone, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your overall health, medication regimen, and individual response to Suboxone to determine the best course of action.

Discussing Sleepiness Concerns

  • Open Communication: Be honest with your healthcare provider about any sleepiness or other side effects you may be experiencing.
  • Medical History Review: Your healthcare provider will review your medical history to identify potential factors contributing to sleepiness.

Exploring Alternative Medications

  • Metha vs. Suboxone: In some cases, metha may be considered as an alternative to Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment, with potentially different side effect profiles.
  • Buprenorphine Monotherapy: Some individuals may switch to buprenorphine monotherapy, which contains only the partial opioid agonist without naloxone.
  • Other Opioid Replacement Therapies: Your healthcare provider may consider other opioid replacement therapies based on your specific needs and response.

Adjusting Suboxone Dosage

If sleepiness is a persistent issue, your healthcare provider may recommend adjusting your Suboxone dosage to find the optimal balance between therapeutic benefits and side effects.

Titrating the Dosage Carefully

  • Gradual Changes: Dosage adjustments are usually made incrementally to minimize the risk of withdrawal or destabilizing your treatment progress.
  • Monitoring Changes in Sleepiness: During dosage adjustments, pay close attention to changes in sleepiness levels and communicate them to your healthcare provider.

Balancing Pain Management

Individuals using Suboxone for pain management may face challenges in managing both pain and sleepiness. Open communication with healthcare providers is crucial to strike a balance between pain relief and sedative effects.

Adopting Good Sleep Habits

Improving sleep hygiene can help manage Suboxone-related sleepiness and promote overall well-being.

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

  • Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to regulate your body’s internal clock.
  • Relaxing Pre-sleep Activities: Engage in calming activities before bedtime, such as reading or meditating, to promote relaxation.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

  • Dark and Quiet Bedroom: Ensure your sleeping environment is conducive to rest by minimizing noise and light.
  • Comfortable Bedding: Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support good sleep posture.

Limiting Screen Time Before Bed

  • Avoiding Electronic Devices: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone essential for sleep.
  • Reading Printed Material: Opt for reading printed books or magazines before bed instead of using electronic devices.

Importance of Compliance and Monitoring

Suboxone treatment requires strict adherence to prescribed guidelines to ensure both its effectiveness and safety.

Following Prescribed Guidelines

Sticking to the recommended dosage and administration schedule is vital for managing sleepiness and achieving successful addiction treatment outcomes.

Adherence to Dosage Instructions

  • Take as Directed: Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on when and how to take Suboxone.
  • Avoid Self-adjustment: Do not alter your dosage without consulting your healthcare provider, as this can lead to unpredictable effects.

Attending Regular Check-ups

Regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider are essential for monitoring your progress and addressing any emerging issues.

Monitoring for Adverse Reactions

Being aware of potential adverse reactions, including sleepiness, is crucial for early detection and intervention.

Keeping Track of Sleep Patterns

  • Sleep Diary: Maintain a sleep diary to record your sleep patterns, including duration and quality of sleep, as well as any changes in sleepiness levels.
  • Reporting Changes: Inform your healthcare provider of any significant changes in your sleep or overall well-being.

Recognizing Signs of Sleep Disorders

Suboxone-related sleepiness can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying sleep disorder.


In conclusion, while Suboxone is an effective treatment for opioid addiction, sleepiness can be a common side effect. This drowsiness is often a result of Suboxone’s interaction with the central nervous system and individual variations in sensitivity and metabolism. To manage sleepiness effectively, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider, consider alternative medications if needed, and adopt good sleep hygiene practices. Compliance with prescribed guidelines and regular monitoring are crucial for achieving successful outcomes and ensuring the safe use of Suboxone. By addressing sleepiness proactively, individuals undergoing Suboxone treatment can enhance their overall well-being and quality of life.

FAQs – Can Suboxone make you sleepy?

1. Is sleepiness a common side effect of Suboxone?

Yes, sleepiness is a relatively common side effect of Suboxone. It is one of the potential central nervous system effects of the medication.

2. Does everyone experience sleepiness while taking Suboxone?

No, not everyone will experience sleepiness while taking Suboxone. The severity of this side effect can vary among individuals based on factors such as dosage, individual sensitivity, and the presence of other substances in the system.

3. Can adjusting the dosage of Suboxone help reduce sleepiness?

Yes, adjusting the dosage of Suboxone can be an effective strategy to manage sleepiness. Healthcare providers may carefully titrate the dosage to find the optimal balance between therapeutic benefits and side effects.

4. How long does the sleepiness typically last when starting Suboxone treatment?

Sleepiness when starting Suboxone treatment is often transient and may last for a few days to a couple of weeks. As the body adapts to the medication, sleepiness may decrease.

5. Is it safe to drive or operate machinery while on Suboxone if feeling sleepy?

No, it is not safe to drive or operate machinery if you are feeling excessively sleepy while on Suboxone. The sedative effects can impair cognitive function and reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents.

6. Can Suboxone interact with other medications that cause drowsiness?

Yes, Suboxone can interact with other medications that have sedative effects, such as benzodiazepines and some antidepressants. Combining these substances can intensify drowsiness and pose health risks.

7. Can lifestyle factors influence sleepiness while on Suboxone?

Yes, lifestyle factors such as poor sleep hygiene, excessive alcohol consumption, or substance abuse can exacerbate sleepiness while on Suboxone. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help manage this side effect.

8. Can caffeine or stimulants counteract Suboxone-related sleepiness?

While stimulants like caffeine may provide temporary relief from sleepiness, they do not address the underlying cause. It’s essential to discuss the use of stimulants with your healthcare provider, as they can interact with Suboxone.

9. Can I stop taking Suboxone if sleepiness becomes bothersome?

No, you should not stop taking Suboxone without consulting your healthcare provider. Abruptly discontinuing the medication can lead to withdrawal symptoms and potentially compromise your addiction treatment.

10. Is there a specific time of day that is better to take Suboxone to minimize sleepiness?

The optimal time to take Suboxone can vary among individuals. Some may find that taking it in the evening helps with sleepiness, while others may prefer taking it in the morning. It’s essential to work with your healthcare provider to determine the best dosing schedule for you.