1 What is Silenor?

Generic: Doxepin

Silenor is used to relieve insomnia. The active ingredient in Silenor, Doxepin, is an antidepressant. The amount of Doxepin in Silenor is significantly small, so it may have little effect on depression, but it does bring sleep.

Silenor does not work immediately like most sedatives. It often takes several days of taking before Silenor works for insomnia.

Silenor requires a prescription and must be used only as prescribed by the doctor.

Note that sleep problems may have underlying physical or mental cause, which may not be relieved by sleep-inducing drugs like Silenor. Silenor may also induce abnormal behavior like driving, preparing food, using the phone or other activities in the half-asleep state, and in some cases, the patient often does not recall doing these activities. Like in most antidepressants, Silenor may increase the risk of suicidal behavior in patients with depression. 

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2 What to Know Before Using

You must understand the following information first before receiving Silenor.


You cannot use Silenor if you have allergies to Doxepin. You also cannot take Silenor if you have allergies to antidepressants such as Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Clomipramine, Desipramine, Imipramine, Nortriptyline, Protriptyline, Or Trimipramine. If you experienced allergies to Silenor or Doxepin before, tell it to your doctor.


Tell your doctor if you have or have a history of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition caused by increased pressure inside the eyes. You cannot use Silenor if you have untreated narrow-angle glaucoma.

Health conditions

Tell all your health problems to the doctor before starting to use Silenor. You cannot take Silenor if you have glaucoma or severe urination problems. The doctor needs to know if you have the following medical conditions before prescribing Silenor:

  • Sleep apnea
  • History of depression or other mental illnesses
  • Habitual use or addiction to alcohol or drugs
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Urination problems


Silenor is an FDA pregnancy category C drug, which means it is not proven completely safe for the fetus when given to pregnant patients. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before taking Silenor.


Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding before taking Silenor. Doxepin in Silenor is known to be passed into the breast milk.


Silenor should not be given to children. Silenor is not proven effective or safe in children.


Silenor can be given to elderly patients, but they require closer monitoring because they are more likely to experience confusion and over-sedation.


Alcohol may enhance drowsiness caused by Silenor and may also increase the risk of side effects. Do not consume alcohol if you are taking Silenor.

Drug interactions

Tell all the medicines you take to your doctor before starting to take Silenor. Silenor may interact with certain drugs and cause undesirable effects. The doctor needs to know if you take the following medicines:

  • MAO inhitor drugs such as Isocarboxazid, Tranylcypromine, Selegiline, Linezolid, and Phenelzine
  • Supplements such as 5-hydroxytryptophan
  • Sedatives
  • Medicines for cough and colds, including over-the-counter drugs
  • Analgesics or painkillers
  • Antidepressants¬†

3 Proper Usage

Silenor is available in tablets thatyou take by mouth. The dose of Silenor is often individualized, so always follow the dose prescribed by the doctor.

Silenor is usually taken once a day, 30 minutes before bedtime. To reduce the likelihood of drowsiness, take Silenor 3 hours after eating.

Silenor may take 7 to 10 days before it improves insomnia symptoms. If you do not feel that the drug is working after taking it for 10 days, call the doctor right away.

It is important to have sufficient sleep hours when taking Silenor. In case it is late, and you cannot have around 8 hours of sleep, do not take Silenor.  

If you missed a dose of Silenor, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and return to original scheduling.

Overdose can occur if you took too much Silenor. In case that happens, call local poison control hotlines immediately.

Store Silenor at room temperature away from heat and light.

4 Precautions to Take

You must be seen frequently by the doctor when you are receiving Silenor. Make sure to keep up with clinic and lab appointments.

Silenor obviously causes drowsiness, so do not perform activities like driving or using heavy machinery after taking the drug.

Do not drink alcohol when taking Silenor.

To reduce side effects, do not take Silenor with food or shortly after a meal. Take Silenor 3 hours after eating food.

Because of the risk of self-harm, you have to be monitored while taking Silenor. Make sure your family can monitor you. Call your doctor if you have thoughts about harming yourself. 

5 Potential Side Effects

Silenor can cause serious side effects. Call your doctor right away if you experienced the following:

  • Severe allergic reaction symptoms such as difficulty breathing, skin rash, hives, swelling of the mouth, nose, lips, or tongue.
  • Potential glaucoma symptoms such as blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, and seeing halos around lights.
  • Symptoms of abnormal blood counts such as bruising, bleeding tendencies, and unusual weakness.
  • Thoughts of self-harm, or suicide attempts
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Restlessness
  • Shakiness or uncontrollable muscle movements in the eyes, jaws, tongue or neck
  • Tremors or uncontrollable shaking
  • Passing too little or no urine
  • Rapid, pounding, or racing heartbeat
  • Confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts and behavior
  • Seizures
  • Extreme thirst with a headache, nausea, vomiting and weakness

Silenor may cause minor side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tired feeling
  • Nausea
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Changes in vision

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