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Ambien, the brand name for zolpidem, is a prescription controlled drug that belongs to a specific class of medicines known as sedatives or hypnotics. It is prescribed to treat insomnia on a short term basis by slowing down the nervous system. Various research studies have shown that Ambien can actually improve the brain function since the level of sleep achieved enables the brain to rest and function well.

Millions of people suffer from insomnia and constantly look for relief. Ambien works by altering the chemicals in the brain which at times can become unbalanced and cause insomnia. The drug helps induce sleep and relaxation in the patient by preventing the cells in the brain from being electronically active. It is usually prescribed to individuals who are experiencing sleep disorders such as inability to sleep, disturbed nights or wakefulness.

Dosing Information

Ambien is intended to help the patient fall asleep quickly and should be taken accordingly. Normally, the drug is prescribed for use only 7 to 10 days. It is available in both quick release formulations in 5mg and 10mg capsules. The dosage should be individualized and long term use is usually not recommended. The use of Ambien should be closely supervised by a physician and the instructions should be followed precisely.

Ambien can cause dependency if the patient overdoses or uses it for too long. Addiction can occur since the body adjusts to the drug and necessitates higher dosages. Exceeding the dosage can also cause respiratory problems, sluggishness, weak pulse, coma or even death. The body can build up tolerance to the sleep inducing effects of Ambien thus prompting the patient to seek extra doses. This can trigger Ambien overdose symptoms or even further complications.

Precautions and Contradictions

Ambien is a safe to use medication, but it works relatively fast and patients are typically advised to take it immediately before bedtime. It quickly causes drowsiness which can have an impact on the patient. Ambien should also be taken only if the patient is capable of devoting eight hours to sleep as a minimum. Otherwise, the drowsy effect of the drug may overwhelm the patient upon waking.

In addition, the drug should not be taken before performing any tasks that involve a lot of concentration such as driving. Any underlying medical conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease or a history of alcohol or drug addiction, should be reported to the doctor before using the drug.

Ambien is normally contraindicated in individuals with established hypersensitivity to zolpidem or to the latent ingredients in the drug formulation. Common reactions include angioedema and anaphylaxis. Some people have also been reported to experience abnormal thoughts and behavior changes that are related to the use of hypnotics and sedatives. Ambien is enormously habit forming and should be used with great caution.

Side Effects

Ambien is a broadly prescribed sleeping medication and many people including physicians treat it as a moderately safe and risk-free drug. But as with any medicine, Ambien side effects are possible. The side effects of this drug are varied and they should be reported immediately to the doctor. Minor side effects include headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea, muscle pain, possible daytime drowsiness and blurred vision.

The serious side effects are downright frightening. One of the major side effects is amnesia, which includes regular amnesia and short-term memory loss. Other serious side effects may include irregular heartbeat, chest pain, breathe shortage and swallowing troubles. Reportedly, the drug can cause delusions, hallucinations, and even dysphoria in rare cases. The most recently reported side effect is the occurrence of sleep related eating and sleepwalking in patients.

As other side effects may occur, it is always advisable to consult the physician for medical advice concerning Ambien side effects. For those who want to stop using the drug, it is important to understand that withdrawal symptoms do occur. Various reports have shown that patients experience signs and symptoms resembling those related to withdrawal from other depressant drugs.

Ambien is a very effective drug in fighting sleeplessness. However, as with any drug, it is highly important to be aware of the potential risks of the drug. Additionally, patients should be cautious about how the side effects and dangers can affect them and how to best avoid them.


  • The FDA has classified Ambien as a Schedule IV drug, having a potential to lead to limited physical or psychological dependence.
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