sleepy businessman yawning

Q. I have suffered with insomnia for years. My doctor prescribed Ambien, which gives me eight hours of restful sleep. Then the pharmacist switched me to generic zolpidem for under $15. He said it was identical to Ambien.

It wasn’t! I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since switching. If I do fall asleep I have horrible nightmares. I cannot afford $130 for regular Ambien. What else can I do? I need my sleep to be alert at work.

A. Dozens of other readers have also reported problems with generic Ambien (zolpidem). If your insurance company won’t cover the brand name medicine, you may wish to consider some non-drug options. They include a small high-carb bedtime snack such as milk and graham crackers, dietary supplements such as magnesium, melatonin, passionflower or valerian, a hot bath an hour before retiring and acupressure wristbands.

We describe these approaches and others in greater detail in our newly revised Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. We also discuss OTC sleeping pills and prescription drugs such as Lunesta, Sonata and Rozerem.

Join Over 120,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Lisa

    I’ve had the same problem with generic Lunesta. When I took Lunesta I felt great and even started a side business. The generic has the opposite effect, I feel lousy, and have no energy and it causes me to have constant pain in my side. The government says they are the same because the industry has them in their pocket. It is a lie and we all know it. I feel the government and insurance companies are forcing me to take a medication that is harming my health, while taking away the one medication that gives me a life. Also, anyone with a real sleep disorder knows that all the little tips and tricks people recommend do not work for major sleep disorders.

  2. H

    I just got a 90 day prescription of a generic Ambian that does not work at all. I feel that not only I , but my pharmacist is being cheated. I get a very specific vision side effect with the other companie’s pill along with a good night’s sleep. Also the new generic is a little round pill that cannot be broken in half, unlike the previous generic which is a little scored oblong. I think that we should all get together and have these medications tested by a drug laboratory and if the zolpiedem is not 10 mg. like it was supposed to be, then a class action suit should happen.

  3. Sue
    Orange County CA

    I had been taking Zolpidem from Target for many years. They just switched to North Star. It does not work. I had experienced this once before when I believe Costco switched to North Star so I switched my prescription over. I just looked up what the one intact caplet (I break the 10 mg and try to take only half most nights,) that I had left. It is from Vintage Pharmacies and that one worked well. I got away with half to three quarters of the tablet most nights. The Northstar is very hard to break for one and doesn’t work even when I take the whole pill. Does anyone know where the Vintage Pharmaceuticals version is? It has a V on one side and 6469 on the other. I really can’t afford the full price of the name brand either.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.