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The prescription drug ramelteon (Rozerem) is a sleep aid prescribed to help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Unlike most drugs used for sleep, ramelteon works by stimulating the same receptors in the body as our own melatonin. Melatonin controls our sleep-wake cycle. While we don’t know exactly how it all works, we do know that when the sun goes down our bodies release melatonin naturally to cause drowsiness. Ramelteon is prescribed specifically to help people fall asleep – but not stay asleep.
The typical ramelteon dosage is 8 mg taken 30 minutes before bedtime. Do not take ramelteon with or immediately after a high-fat meal because the maximum concentration of the drug is lowered. Additionally, food can delay absorption by 45 minutes.
Unlike other drugs used for sleep, so far there is no evidence that ramelteon causes dependence (people do not become addicted) even after prolonged use.
The side effects of ramelteon are mild and include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and headache. Some people have reported performing activities with no memory of the event, such as driving or eating; this same effect occurs with other sleep aids. In overdose, the most commonly reported adverse effect is drowsiness or lethargy.
Animal studies with very large doses have shown some negative effects on the fetus. Human studies are lacking but, because of the animal effects, ramelteon is not approved for use during pregnancy.
If you think someone might have unintentionally taken too much ramelteon (or any drug), immediately call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or check the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool for help. Whether you call or log on, expert assistance is available 24 hours a day.
Pela Soto, PharmD, BSHS, BS
Certified Specialist in Poison Information
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