Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sleep Disorders, Pills, and Phenibut

My husband has Cyclothymia, which is a form of Bipolar disorder.  The oddest thing about his mood disorder is that his biggest symptom is an erradic sleep schedule.

It is very hard for him to fall asleep at a regular time, despite trying all of the normal sleep advice and trying many different kinds of sleep pills.

Very few pills work consistantly for him. Unfortunately, the only one that does always work is Seroquel, but it's expensive without insurance, causes health problems (seems to lower his immune system, increase his feelings of pain, messes with his internal thermostat) plus it lasts way too long (12+ hours of grogginess!).

When he was taking Seroquel regularly, he was also taking a medicine during the day to "wake up."  This causes personality changes and more side effects and ultimately we've concluded that it is easier and safer to accept his strange sleep pattern than it is to try to induce a normal sleep pattern.

So he sleeps when his body tells him to.  Sometimes it's at night, but it is just as likely it will be during the day.  It makes for a bit of a random shedule, but we're coping. At least when he is awake, he can be his true self. And that is worth a lot to me :)

If he is also experiencing other mood symptoms or just has gone too many days without sleeping enough, then he often feels that he has to take something to sleep, and so, we've experimented with many different kinds of sleeping pills and the one that I want to talk about here is one you've probably never heard of: Phenibut.

We bought Phenibut after he was doing lots of reading and searching one night.  You can buy it online at iHerb.com and get $5 off your first order.

To my surprise, I found out that I really like how Phenibut makes me feel.  It is probably the closest thing to a benzodiazepine that is sold as a supplement.  Like benzodiazepines, it can be addictive and it should only be used for about 4 days in a row. It also becomes less effective if you use it for more than several days in a row.

What I like about it, is that gives me this wonderful feeling of calmness that extends into the next morning.  When I wake up in the morning, I feel relaxed but not groggy. I think it lifts my mood, as well.  It also makes music sound better.  Yesterday was a particularly stressful day for me (unexpected plumbing problem - ugh!) and I was feeling jittery, over stimulated, nervous, etc.  The phenibut calmed me down and helped me to fall asleep.

The chemical name of Phenibut is Beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid.

To make Phenibut easier to remeber, we call it "FUNNY BUT"

Phenibut acts like a real drug, in that its effect is strong and it is important to take the correct dosage.  If you take too much, it can cause a bad headache.

Both the powder and the Relax All are good. The Relax All contains other ingredients that must work well together, as my husband gives it a thumbs up for anxiety.  The phenibut powder works better for just inducing sleep and is also cheaper per dose.  We've also tried phenibut capsules but found that they seemed weak.  The powder is bitter but tolerable mixed into juice.

Although Pheibut is really good, like almost all sleep pills, it does not guarantee a good nights sleep for my husband.  It will make him feel good and help him relax, but when the sleep comes on is still a nightly mystery.  Sometimes he will get sleepy in about an hour, or it might take many hours.  He is just different that way.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsome1/3422512294/


  1. Hi I suspect phenibut can trigger or contribute to the manic side of bipolar disorder, it certainely does with me. It can make me hell of a sleepy but if I ride this out and don't actually fall asleep it can start to work like speed and soon enough I'm in the land of heightened creativity, euphoria and god like ominpotence! Which is fun, but of no use if you're trying to hold down a normal life! Best wishes.

  2. I agree that phenibut can cause mood changes... Sometimes it seems to act a bit like a hypnotic. I don't think its effect is always the same... I'm not at all surprised by your comment. But then again, once I took a prescription sleeping pill, and it made me peppy!

  3. This Phenibut is lethal to us that have bipolar! A couple weeks ago I bought some 250mg capsules, as my anxiety was bad and it is taking ages to get an appointment with the pdoc. For the first week, it seemed to help and I noticed that I slept much deeper and felt more refreshed upon awakening. Then I began to feel stimulated by something and have now had about a week of hardly any sleep at all. Basically I've entered a mixed state. I stopped the Phenibut for a night but got bad withdrawals. It feels very addictive. Instead of being a traq, it is now messing with my bipolar big time! I'm gonna throw this stuff away.

  4. Sorry to hear about your bad reaction to it. I think people with Bipolar Disorder are often more sensitive to mind-altering supplements than the general public.