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Temazepam: 7 things you should know

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on March 1, 2023.

1. How it works

  • Temazepam may be used for the short-term relief of insomnia (sleeplessness). Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep or constant waking during the night.
  • Temazepam helps people to sleep by enhancing the effects of GABA, which is a chemical transmitter that helps calm down nerve activity in the brain.
  • Temazepam belongs to the class of medicines known as benzodiazepines.

2. Upsides

  • Useful for the short-term relief (less than seven to ten days) of insomnia.
  • Has more sedative properties, but less anti-seizure and anxiolytic effects than some other benzodiazepines, such as diazepam or oxazepam.
  • Generic temazepam is available.

3. Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, headache, oversedation, short-term memory loss, coordination problems, and confusion.
  • May cause a drop in blood pressure, especially when going from a lying to a standing position. This may increase the risk of falls. Elderly people may be more sensitive to this effect, and the dosage of temazepam in elderly people should be kept low.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (such as tremors, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, and, rarely, seizures) may occur if temazepam has been taken for a long time or at higher-than-recommended dosages and is then stopped abruptly. Temazepam should be tapered off slowly on discontinuation. Even after regular dosing, mild withdrawal symptoms (such as a low mood or insomnia) may occur if temazepam is discontinued abruptly.
  • Temazepam is addictive and can cause dependence. May not be suitable for people with a history of substance abuse or addictive disorders. Keep legitimate supplies of temazepam out of sight of potential drug seekers.
  • Temazepam should not be used during pregnancy because it has been associated with an increased risk of birth defects. Temazepam is incompatible with breastfeeding.
  • Paradoxical reactions (the opposite of what is expected), such as worsening insomnia, aggressiveness, hallucinations, extroversion, and rage have been reported, mainly in people with other mental health concerns.
  • Reports of "sleep-driving” (driving while not fully awake), and other behaviors (such as eating, making phone calls, or having sex) after temazepam ingestion have been documented. The risk may be exacerbated by large doses of alcohol. Seek medical advice if this occurs.
  • May interact with several other medicines, including other drugs that also have sedation as a side effect. See prescribing information for a full list of interactions.
  • May not be suitable for some people including those with respiratory disease, kidney or liver disease, psychiatric illness, or those with a history of substance abuse or addictive disorders.

Note: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. View complete list of side effects

4. Bottom Line

  • Temazepam is used to help people get to sleep. It is habit-forming and should not be used for more than seven to ten nights in a row.

5. Tips

  • Take temazepam just before bedtime. Do not take it if you are unlikely to stay in bed for the next seven to eight hours.
  • Once you have taken temazepam, do not drive, operate machinery, or perform tasks that require mental alertness. Avoid alcohol.
  • Only use temazepam for short periods to help with sleep (no more than seven to ten days) as it can be habit-forming. Sleep disturbance can be a sign of some other underlying disorder. Call your doctor if your insomnia worsens or does not improve within seven to ten days.
  • Take only as directed by your doctor. Do not increase the dosage without your doctor's advice. Side effects from temazepam increase with higher dosages.
  • Temazepam can increase your risk of falls, particularly if you need to get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. Remove any fall hazards from your house (such as loose rugs) and slowly get out of bed when getting up in the middle of the night.
  • Seek immediate medical advice if you experience any unusual side effects from temazepam such as worsening insomnia, aggressiveness, hallucinations, or bizarre behaviors.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before buying other medications over the counter to check that they are compatible with temazepam.

6. Response and effectiveness

  • Temazepam takes approximately 30 minutes to start working, with peak effects seen at three-quarters to one hour. Its effects last approximately seven to eight hours.
  • Do not take temazepam if you do not intend to stay asleep or in bed for at least eight hours. Otherwise, you may find yourself still under the effects of the drug, which may affect your ability to concentrate or drive.

7. Interactions

Medicines that interact with temazepam may either decrease its effect, affect how long it works, increase side effects, or have less of an effect when taken with temazepam. An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of the medications; however, sometimes it does. Speak to your doctor about how drug interactions should be managed.

Common medications that may interact with temazepam include:

  • anti-anxiety medications, including other benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and oxazepam
  • anticonvulsants such as valproate
  • antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, imipramine, nortriptyline
  • antihistamines that cause sedation, such as diphenhydramine
  • barbiturates
  • duloxetine
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as selegiline, isocarboxazid, or phenelzine
  • opioid analgesics such as codeine, oxycodone and morphine
  • oral contraceptives
  • muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine
  • probenecid
  • scopolamine
  • sleeping pills, such as zolpidem
  • some medications used to treat mental illness, such as clozapine and thioridazine
  • theophylline.

Alcohol may worsen the side effects of temazepam such as drowsiness and dizziness.

Note that this list is not all-inclusive and includes only common medications that may interact with temazepam. You should refer to the prescribing information for temazepam for a complete list of interactions.


Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use temazepam only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2023 Revision date: March 1, 2023.