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Ambien Sleep Aid



Ambien (Zolpidem)
A sleeping pill prescribed for short term treatment only

Ambien (Zolpidem)

Ambien is a prescription sleep aid for the short-term treatment of insomnia. It is effective in inducing sleep, but it has also been linked to serious side-effects such as traffic accidents and crimes commited while sleepwalking.

How does Ambien work?
The active ingredient - Zolpidem - works with a natural brain chemical called GABA, one of at least 18 major brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters control communication among neighboring brain cells by either increasing or decreasing their electrical activity. Once released from a brain cell, it is believed that GABA dampens the electrical activity of neighboring brain cells and that Zolpidem works with GABA to further reduce the possibility of certain brain cells becoming electrically active. Zolpidem is not chemically related to any older sleep drugs that work with GABA. Laboratory studies have shown that unlike these older sleep drugs, Zolpidem targets a specific area of the brain cell. This specific targeting may result in fewer side effects. When taken as prescribed, Ambien can give you the good night's sleep your body demands without lingering drowsiness the following day.

Is Ambien effective?
Yes, and it works quickly too. Ambien helps people fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes. For this reason, you must take it only when you are ready to go to sleep. It also helps you stay asleep and not wake up too early. In most instances, memory problems can be avoided if you take Ambien only when you are able to get a full night's sleep (7 to 8 hours) before you need to be active again.

Will I feel drowsy the next day if I take Ambien?
In short-term clinical trials, only 2% of people taking Ambien reported daytime sleepiness. Take it as directed to minimize the risk of next-day drowsiness. In one study in elderly subjects with no insomnia, a small but statistically significant decrease in performance was observed in a test of dexterity when compared with placebo. Studies of Zolpidem in non-elderly patients with insomnia did not show any next-day objective carryover effects.

Can I take Ambien if I'm also taking other medications?
Some medications, even those available without prescription, can interfere with or increase the effect of zolpidem. Before taking any other drug, ask the doctor about possible interactions.

Can I take Ambien if I'm pregnant?
Studies to assess the effects of Zolpidem on human reproduction and development have not been conducted. Use of Ambien during pregnancy is not recommended and should be considered only if your physician determines it is needed. Sleep medicines may cause sedation of the unborn baby when used during the last weeks of pregnancy. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant, if you are planning to become pregnant, or if you become pregnant while taking sleep medicines.

I'm an older adult who has insomnia. Will zolpidem work for me?
Yes. zolpidem is an effective short-term treatment for insomnia in older adults. Your doctor will determine the dose that's best for you.

How long can I safely take Ambien?
As with any prescription medication, you should take it as prescribed by your doctor. Zolpidem, like most other sleep medicines, is most often initially prescribed for 7 to 10 days as needed. Your doctor will advise you about taking it for a longer period of time.

Can I drink alcohol while taking Ambien?
No. Never drink alcohol while you are being treated with any sleep medicine. Alcohol can increase its action and side effects. Do not take any other medicines without asking your doctor first. This includes medicines you can buy without a prescription. Some medicines can cause drowsiness and are best avoided while taking sleep aids. Always take the exact dose of the sleep aid prescribed by your doctor. Never change your dose without talking to your doctor first.

Is there anything special that my doctor should know before Ambien is prescribed?

Some conditions may affect how you take Zolpidem. Be sure to tell your doctor if you: Drink alcohol, Have a history of alcohol or drug dependency, Are pregnant or breast-feeding, Have any breathing difficulties, such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, Have a history of heavy snoring, Have a history of depression or currently are experiencing depression, Have kidney or liver disease

What are the most common zolpidem side effects?
All medicines have side effects. Those most commonly seen with short-term treatment in controlled clinical studies have been daytime drowsiness in 2% of subjects, dizziness in 1%, and diarrhea in 1%. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery after taking any sleep medication until you know how it will affect your physical or mental performance upon awakening.

Some special concerns that may arise while taking sleep medicines include memory problems, tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, and changes in behavior and thinking.

Memory problems
Sleep medicines may cause a special type of memory loss or "amnesia." When this occurs, a person may not remember what has happened for several hours after taking the medicine. This is usually not a problem, since most people fall asleep after taking the medicine, and memory problems are not common while taking Zolpidem. Memory loss can be a problem, however, when sleep medicines are taken while traveling, such as during an airplane flight, and the person wakes up before the effect of the medicine is gone. This has been called "traveler's amnesia." In most instances, memory problems can be avoided if you take Ambien only when you are able to get a full night's sleep (7 to 8 hours) before you need to be active again.

Ambien Tolerance
Ambien is indicated for short-term use. However, if it is used every night for more than a few weeks, it may lose its effectiveness. This loss of effectiveness is known as tolerance.

Ambien Addiction
Ambien Addiction, or dependence, can be caused if it is used regularly for longer than a few weeks or at doses that are higher than prescribed by a doctor. All people taking sleep medicines have some risk of becoming dependent on the medicine. However, people who have been dependent on alcohol or other drugs in the past may have a greater chance of becoming addicted.

Ambien Withdrawal
When people develop dependence, they may experience unpleasant symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the medicine after having used the medicine daily for a long time, and in some cases for only a week or two. In clinical trials, less than 1% of patients reported withdrawal symptoms within 48 hours after they stopped taking Zolpidem. Since doctors have been allowed to prescribe Zolpidem, reports of withdrawal have been rare.

Another problem that may occur when any sleep medicine is stopped is the return of insomnia symptoms. In some people, the symptoms just come back after sleep medication is stopped. In others, the symptoms may be due to "rebound insomnia." This means that a person may have more trouble sleeping the first few nights after the medicine is stopped than they did before starting the medicine. If you should experience rebound insomnia, don't get discouraged. This problem usually goes away on its own after a night or two.


Do not take Ambien unless you are able to get a full night's sleep (7 to 8 hours).

Do not increase the prescribed dose unless instructed by your doctor.

Use extreme care while doing anything that requires complete alertness, such as driving a car, operating machinery, or piloting an aircraft, until you know whether the medicine will have some carryover effect on you the next day.

Be aware that you may have increased sleeping problems the first night or two after stopping any sleep medicine.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant, if you are planning to become pregnant, or if you become pregnant while taking any sleep medicine.

Never share your medication with anyone else.

Always store sleep medicine out of reach of children.

Ambien works very quickly. Only take it right before going to bed, when you're ready to go to sleep.


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