woman sleeping on a pillow

The popular sleeping pill zolpidem was first approved by FDA in 1992 under the brand name Ambien. Last year nearly 40 million prescriptions for this medication were dispensed.
Last week, the FDA announced a change in dose for women. Instead of the usual 10 mg dose, women are instructed to stick to 5 mg of the instant release forms of zolpidem. The FDA has also suggested that women taking the slow release formulation of zolpidem (Ambien CR) not exceed a dose of 6.25 mg.
The reason for this change is a recognition that many women end up with higher blood levels that persist longer in the body. The agency has received more than 700 reports of “impaired ability and/or road traffic accidents” associated with zolpidem. The morning hangover effect may impact judgment and reaction times. Some men may also do better on the lower dose of this medication.
You can read some scary stories from readers about their experiences sleep-driving while taking this drug.

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  1. Pookie

    I have Fibromyalgia and in daily pain. Sleep is essential to feel even a little better. I take Ambien ( for 20 years) flexeril, Elavil, and clonazepam to sleep. Sounds like a lot but without it I don’t sleep at all and at times still wake up in the night and hurt terribly the next day because I cannot go back to sleep. Good luck to all. We must have our sleep!

  2. Scarlett
    Lawndale, NC

    I started taking 10 mg. Ambien 18 years ago after my son committed suicide. It has been the ONLY thing that lets me stay asleep for a good 6 hours at a time. I have tried other things but was wide awake after only an hour or two & was awake the rest of the night. Now I’m being told that because of some idiots that take the pill, then decide to go shopping afterwards, it can’t be given to anyone over 65. I am furious!!!!!! I agreed to try something else, just to see if anything else worked as well. NOT !!!!!!!!

    The first one Rozerem hit me so hard that if I hadn’t had someone with me that night, I’d have ended up in the floor all night. Then the next day, it hit me again late in the afternoon-WHILE I WAS DRIVING. I had to pull off the road, get out & walk around several minutes to even make it home……where I collapsed into bed. The second one I tried was Seroquel. It hit me so hard that when I had to get up during the night to go to the bathroom, I had to hold onto the wall. I slept ALL DAY, could NOT function at all & felt like I was walking on someonelse’s legs.

    I NEVER had any of these problems with my Ambien from the very first day I took it. Seems to me that if doctors would listen to their patients more, instead of what the almighty FDA is saying, everyone would be better off. Let the FDA recommend all day long, but not everyone is going to react to every drug the same way. They are all as stupid as teats on a three legged boar to think that a 5′, 100 lb. 25 yr old woman is going to react the same as with a 6′, 200 lb 65 yr old woman. Guess you can send an idiot to college but all you’re gonna have is an educated idiot to believe everything the FDA says.

  3. Justine

    I would happily sign a petition to have the new Ambien dosage recommention for women revoked because it hampers our constitutional right to pursue happiness; to get enough sleep in order to be and experience our best selves.
    Until we unite we will continued to be exploited (the we in the last sentence refers to women living in the USA, and especially those women over 65).
    Hopefully a woman with leadership skills will lead us out of the bondage the new Ambien allowance/ deprivation that has been imposed on us as a group and any future impingements to our constitutional right to wellbeing. Personally I’m quite tired and rundown to do much due to the cessation o my Ambien prescription. Hope someone will take the banner to lead USA women to a better place on many fronts.

    • Scarlett

      If that petition ever gets going, please let me know…..I will GLADLY sign it too.

  4. Jacqueline

    5mg ambien has caused me to double my dosage. I am now without anything to sleep. As a women I feel I am being discriminated against. Should not this choice be between my doctor and myself.

  5. Mary

    I take amibem 10mg and elival which is a antidepressant and I still can’t sleep.

  6. Mimi R

    I am 66 year old woman. My new doctor won’t prescribe me Ambien, not even 5mg because I am over 65. I have been taking 5mg for 6 years, I always wake up refreshed with no side effects whatsoever. He gave me Restoril instead, because he said that’s what they give patients in the hospital. This did a terrible job on me, I woke up with a terrible headache that lasted all day and I was so tired all day I could not function properly. This never happened to me with Ambien. Before I took Ambien I tried all kinds of over the counter herbs and potions and nothing worked as well as Ambien.

    • Scarlett

      I fully agree……..why do they always want to come in & fix something that’s not broke………..for those of us that Ambien was a God-send, LEAVE us alone. The two medicines that I was given to replace the ambien just about did me in. How can the doctors justify giving something to someone that does them so much harm when what they were taking was doing them so much good?

  7. Irma B.

    I believe that people should listen to the doctor when they say to take this at bedtime not in the morning. I have a RSD. Bad nerve con. My doctor put in AMBIEN 12.75 Most of time pains is to bad that wakes me up. Now since the new law pass only for women 5mg. I was very upset because of my RSD. Now I have to take 5mg and with it two EQUATE PM. And 5mg DOES NOT DO GOOD ME.

  8. lime

    I have been taking Ambien for about 2 years. For the prior 3 years I had no idea that you could take something to help you sleep. I woke up 30 to 40 times every night and that just became my new normal. Now with the help of Ambien I only wake up about 5 times a night. I have been taking 10 mg and my Doctor had told me to not take it 1 out of the 7 nights a week so my body won’t get to used to it and in turn it will keep working. But on that 1 night a week with out Ambien I just laid in bed for hours. I usually fell asleep around 4 am but may times it was 7 am. So after 1 year of that I just took it every night. I have been on the new fda 5 mg only for the past 4 days and the 1st night I fell asleep at 5am 2nd night 4 am 3rd night 7 am and here I am at 5:30 a.m. looking on line to see and I the only one that with the new fda 5 mg only law can’t fall asleep. I am so f——- a wake it’s not funny and yet soooo tried after the 4 hours a night I am getting now. If 2 mg worded I would be happy to just take that. But maybe the fact that I am 210 pounds might be why. I guess if I loss 100 pounds maybe the 5 mg may work. lol NOT !!! So can any one tell me did the fda tell doctors this is recommended or is it the law ? Can a doctor order more that 5 mg for a woman if he knows 5 mg will not work ??????

  9. steevio

    I am a 65 yr. male having been on AMBIEN for about 10 years w/out any side effects.(12.5mgCR) extended release. While I researched this issue for my lady friend I was surprised @ the info re: slow release from the body into the next day which is apparently different than men. So I will tell her what I found out but I want to remind all forward thinkers that “Your doctor has a BODY OF KNOWLEDGE, but you have KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR BODY.” We are not all the same. Use common sense with this.

  10. cas

    I am in the same boat I have been taking 10mg for 10 years what now no sleep for me? Do we have any recourse or is this “just the way it is”?

    • Jennifer L.
      United States

      I hope you found a doctor that could prescribe you 10 mg again. 5 mg did absolutely nothing for me and I was sick from lack of sleep. Not saying you need it, but a psych doc is able to prescribe 10 mg for a female.
      I have been back on it for about a month and I am so happy to be sleeping again.
      I have been taking Ambien for 8 years, 10 mg is perfect and as long as your sleep hygiene is good, you shouldn’t have problems.
      Does anyone else wonder why it’s just women and not based upon weight?

  11. DC

    Ive taken 10mg for years with no problems. I am 39yrs. and female. Now I have to take 5mg that just does not work. That’s not fair. They should go off of weight.

  12. SC

    This morning I am tired, achy and angry. Because of my gender my poor health from lack of sleep is returning to what it once was before my doctor prescribed Ambien. The dosage of 6.25 mg is not working for me. I’ve always taken the 12.5 mg of medication responsibly, allowing 8 hours for sleep. I used to awake feeling refreshed and ready to go. Now I awake feeling tired from lack of sleep, my joints and muscles ache, my eyes are bloodshot and I’m angry.
    Simply using gender as a determination for dosage is using a broad paint brush and irresponsible. Come on FDA you can do better.

  13. Pam

    I think this is discrimination. I am 5′ 9″ and weigh 165 lb and am female. So I can only get 5 mg from the VA? I am a retired Air Force major and have been prescribed 10 mg a day for many years! What a surprise when I called my VA hospital and told them I was mistakenly prescribed 5 mg only to be told this BS by the VA pharmacy.
    I told the VA pharmacist that this is discrimination and I will call the FDA. I think she thought I was crazy!

    • Wanda
      Buckeye AZ

      The VA pharmacist will not only not give me 10mg they would only give me 15 5mg a month, even when my doctor requested 30 pills they would only up it to 20 and cut back on the months I could get it.

  14. JN

    I am an extremely responsible person, I was “blessed” by the manufacturer that “discovered Ambien, I was such a “horrible insomniac, I took 20 mg for over 15 yrs without any issues, now, my marriage will be destroyed from lack of sleep, ? job suffer? on and on on, this should be a case-by- case basis, not “everyone grouped together!!! THINK OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!

  15. JN

    I have been taking 20mg of ambien for over 15 years, I am the worlds worse insomniac, I wake up refreshed, ready to “tackle” the day, ambien has “saved my life and I will interview MDs who will agree we are ALL not the same, but we admits what helps us!!!

  16. PE

    Shouldn’t this be prescribed by the individuals body weight? 10 mg for a 110 pound female is different than 10 mg for a 200 pound female.

  17. Doreen W.

    I’m wondering how long “longer” is. Without more specific information, this seems pretty arbitrary to me.
    I have a ‘script for the 10 mg pill, but generally 1/2 (5 mg) works for me.

  18. Cindy B.

    Good grief! Can’t people take a certain dosage and see for themselves if it works correctly or as needed, and adjust the dosage accordingly? Sheesh.

    • Ann
      Irving, Texas

      The problem is that people dont read the instructions on how to use this medication properly. You have to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. You should not take if you will be getting less sleep which will lead to the non-alertness, feeling drowsy and accidents. So I, as well as others will suffer with no sleep and get the same affect FROM NOT SLEEPING! This will create more of a issue and I will be contacting the FDA. I want my sleep back.

  19. Pauline

    I have taken ambien and later zolpidem 5 mg since 2008 with no adverse effects. I am an 88-year-old female.

  20. LAB

    So, the dosage of something that, taken correctly, works very well for many people (including me) will be halved because some people experience problems. What about the issue of not getting sufficient sleep during the workweek? I’ve tried 5 mg and it doesn’t work for me. What will I need next, the drug that keeps you awake for a workday?

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