sleepy man, Klonopin for insomnia

Zolpidem is one of the most popular sleeping pills in the pharmacy. According to IMS Health, an organization that tracks such things, nearly 40 million zolpidem prescriptions were dispensed last year. It is sold under a variety of names including Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, Intermezzo and Zolpimist.
Ambien was first approved by the FDA as a sleeping pill in 1992. It was initially perceived as safer and perhaps more effective than prior “hypnotics.” But after more than two decades, the FDA has issued a brand new warning and an unusual dosage adjustment.
On Thursday, January 10th, the Food and Drug Administration announced that women should avoid the 10 mg dose and instead take no more than 5 mg of the standard release zolpidem tablets. The reason is that some women may end up with higher blood levels of zolpidem that could persist longer in the body and possibly lead to morning hangover and slower reaction times. Although many people might not realize it, they could be impaired during the day and more susceptible to accidents. The FDA is also suggesting that women avoid the zolpidem slow release 12.5 mg dose (Ambien CR) and use the 6.25 mg dose instead. The FDA is encouraging doctors to prescribe lower doses of zolpidem for men as well.
Do you not find it fascinating that it has taken the FDA more than two decades to discover this problem? It just reinforces the reality that it often takes years (or decades) to discover some adverse drug reactions.
We began to suspect that there were some unusual problems with Ambien a long time ago, thanks to readers of our syndicated newspaper column and visitors to this website. Here are just some of the scary stories we have received over the years:
This Q&A came to us six years ago:

Q. I had a terrible experience with Ambien about a month ago. I took the drug at bedtime, then had hallucinations and got in my car to escape. I don’t remember a thing, but the police stopped me and my boyfriend had to bring me home.

A short time ago, I tried taking Ambien again. This time too I had terrible hallucinations and got in my car and drove. I don’t remember a thing about it, but I was arrested and spent 24 hours in jail. Because of the Ambien, I slept almost the entire time. I had to have an attorney and have lost my job as an RN. Have you heard of other people who have had such serious problems with Ambien?

A. There are reports of hallucinations, sleepwalking and sleep-driving associated with the sleeping pill Ambien. In one case a woman (another nurse) walked out of the house on a cold Colorado night wearing just a thin nightie. She got into the car and drove until she had an accident. When she was being arrested, she became violent with the officers, but later could remember nothing about the event. Sleeping pill-induced amnesia has been reported for years.

Q. What do you know about the sleeping pill Ambien? A friend of mine has been taking it occasionally for years. The other night she took one and when she awoke the next morning, she saw signs that she had done things during the night but had no recollection of doing them. She was so alarmed that she crushed her pills and threw them out.

A. We have heard from many others who report unusual behavior after taking Ambien. One woman wrote that her husband began sleepwalking after taking this sleep aid:

“He woke me saying there was something terribly wrong with the computer. I got up and found coffee spilled all over the desk and the cords to the keyboard and mouse cut with scissors. He did not remember doing this.
“On another occasion, he thought that someone had kidnapped his brother and put him in the trunk of a neighbor’s car. He’d gone out in his pajamas and jumped up and down on the car, screaming for someone to let his brother out. He had smeared chocolate pudding on his face like a commando. The neighbors called the police and we had to pay the damages, nearly $1,500.”

“I got ready for bed around 10:00 pm last night, took Ambien and fell asleep. The next morning my dog woke me up to let him out. As I passed through the kitchen I realized I had been sleepwalking/driving that night. I found a doggie bag full of food from a restaurant in the trash, my car was scratched up, my front door wide open.
I don’t understand how I could drive to a restaurant, order food, eat the food, ask for a doggie bag and pay the check (that’s if I even paid for it). I called my doctor to change medications and let her know what happened. I must have been very hungry.”

“Doctors have given me two drugs. One is Sonata, which only helps for about three hours. The other is Ambien, which seems to affect my balance the next day and make me light-headed.”

“Here’s an interesting event that happened to me two nights ago: In my “mind” I took one 10 mg Ambien and went to bed. The next morning I woke up around 9:00, got a call from a coworker and finished packing for a business trip. I met him downstairs and told him I had to go to the bank to transfer some money to my wife’s account.
“When I called her to ask for the acct #, she asked me how I was feeling. I replied, “I’m fine. Why?” she tells me “Hon, you were in the hospital for almost 8 hrs last night after you wrecked your car!”
“Apparently, I got back up about 1 hour after going to sleep, got into an argument with someone at the front desk of the hotel I’m staying in over god-only-knows what, then I drove 2 miles to a gas station (why, I still don’t know) and when I left the gas station I drove over an embankment where my car got stuck.
“The police showed up and I have no idea what happened but they took me to the ER, gave me a CT scan, almost put me on the mental ward for telling the doctors that I was going to have them killed because my wife is a ninja (no kidding!). I told them it was 1997 and we were in Georgia (this happened in NC…), and I tried to “escape” dozens of times over the next 8hrs.
“I have no memory AT ALL of any of this! I’m sore as hell, probably from fighting doctors, cops, and security guards and I’m scared to death I’m going to have legal charges leveled against me. I don’t drink or use drugs and ALL I took WHILE LAYING DOWN was ONE 10 mg Ambien. All the hospital found in my blood was ONE AMBIEN. I didn’t drink before or after taking it, or mix it with any other prescriptions.
“The warning label on this stuff should read “Close supervision required” because I almost killed myself and nearly wound up in a mental hospital —> all for doing something while I was dead asleep.”

“My doctor prescribed Ambien for sleeplessness after my husband died. I found a whole pill was too much, as I could not wake up in the morning. I tried cutting the pill in half and slept well. After reading all these horror stories I decided I did not want to take Ambien any more and switched to one Tylenol PM. I sleep well and wake up more refreshed.”–Joyce

These are just some of the stories we have received over the last few years. One other warning about zolpidem that is underappreciated is heartburn. It may seem like a minor problem compared to the stories you have read above, but many people have reported severe reflux symptoms associated with zolpidem.
Here is just one example:

“I was prescribed Ambien for insomnia, then began experiencing reflux and heartburn nightly. After a few weeks, it occurred to me that the heartburn began about the same time I started the Ambien.
“As I was only instructed to take the Ambien ‘as needed’, I stopped immediately and went online to research this. I found many, many instances of people who’d experienced the same thing. Of course, my doctor was surprised, as she had never heard of this before.”

Other people have reported problems with certain generic formulations of Ambien. That is to say, some generics just don’t work as well for them as the brand name.

“Without my approval, I was given a generic substitute for Ambien. The generic drug simply did not work for me. I was awake till 7 AM. The pharmacist insisted that the generic version was the same drug, only with different fillers.”

“I was surprised to read the information about Ambien vs zolpidem. I have complained to my Dr. and pharmacist ever since being switched, and they act like it is in my head. Now I know it is not after reading all of the posts. There is a difference.”–Brenda

If all this is getting you down, why not consider some other ways to get your zzzs. Our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep offers some non-drug approaches, along with pros and cons of many sleeping pills, including zolpidem. If there is a moral to this story, it is that it can take the FDA a VERY long time to discover serious adverse drug reactions. Do not assume that the side effect information you get along with your prescription is the last word on the safety of your medicine.
If you have had experience with zolpidem, please share your story below. And if you have successfully treated your insomnia without drugs, please let us know how you did it.

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  1. Shelly

    It does not matter that the government updated the guidelines. They advised doctors that the lower doses for women would be better but your doctor is allowed to give you the full doses for both ambien and ambien cr. all you need to do is tell them the lower dose does not work you do not fall asleep or you do not stay asleep as long.

    I have been on ambien for 15 to 20 years and my doctor advised me of the new guidelines and he asked me a few questions. I had already tried to do the lower dose a few times and I cannot fall asleep so my doctor said its just a guideline and he kept me at the higher dose. you do not need to be on the lower dose your doctor is allowed to keep you at the dose you were on.

  2. Joann

    Never had a problem one except that I only sleep 3 to 4 hrs it works great and no sleepy side effects I like the fact I can wake without feeling drugged I take 10 mg yes some of the no namebrands don t work at all but at least I am not overdosing i like did on other sleeping pills

  3. Synaja

    Dosing needs to be done on case by case basis, starting at low dose then weaning up as necessary while monitoring pt (possibly Wkly or biwkly) to be sure there r no adverse effects.

    I understand the safety issue for all that had bad reactions & needing to have their dose lowered or stopped. But there r plenty of us out there that were doing very well on the 12.5mg dose. (That shouldn’t have been cut back just cause others had problems, just not right) The only thing that gets me to sleep & keeps me asleep for the full 7-8hrs that I need.

    Using the 6.25 mg dose only keeps me sleep 3-4hrs, which means I would have to do what is not recommended & take a 2 dose to get back to sleep for remainder of night in order to be well rested for the day.

    I’ve worked all different shifts, including as a sleep tech for almost 10yrs. Now drive for a living and believe I know how to moderate my as needed (per diem) medications so as prevent any possible problems. I know my body and what does & doesn’t work for me.

    Hopefully those that had all those problems get help and even more so hopefully those on charge will see my point of view to prescribe the dose that is needed for each individual just like any other medication that’s prescribed. Cause right now you’re just lumping everyone into the same category which is completely wrong and very unprofessional..

  4. Kandis

    I have been on 10 mg ambein for 1 year and half. I search a long time to find something that worked and now there saying women can only take 5. Mg I have never had any of the problems there taking about.. Very frustrated

  5. Kandis

    I am frustrate that the have now are having women take a smaller dose when I was taking the 10 mg and it work great. I have search for a long time to fine something that worked and now there changing thing. I have never had any of the problem there sayin

  6. Lynn

    Ambien had worked great for me over 15 years. Now Dr said I’m over 65 and can no longer prescribe. I’ve dealt with sleep paralysis all my life. Ambien worked. Now I am heart broken to think I have to deal with that again.
    I’ve never had any side effects. I take it when I get in bed and go to sleep. Feel great the next day. No grogginess . Except Teva brand did not work, but most other generics have worked. I dread having to change when ambien worked.

  7. nan
    davie, fl

    I have been taking Ambien for more than 15 years. Works like a charm. When they changed to generic I was fine as well. One month I wasn’t able to sleep and after long conversations with publix found that this months generic was made in S. Africa, not Israel like the other generic and was cheaper for them to buy. It had fillers that were different. I have true ADHD. I cannot take any PM medication as it hypes me out instead of puts me to sleep. The fillers in some generics have that PM med in it and you have to watch where your medication is manufactured.

  8. Julie

    The ten mg of ambien was the only thing that worked for me. The ambien cr does nothing. I’m up all night. I’m angry they changed the dosage. I don’t know what to do. I just don’t sleep.

  9. legion

    I have been on ambien cr for 7 years now. It’s worked for a long time. No weird story to tell here, but recently my pill changed to zolpidem er 12.5. These pills take way too long to put me to sleep. I tell my doc and she says best she can do for me. I’ve been on ambien cr for 7 yr and its worked fine. Now I’m up at night eating candy and waking up the next morning with my wife describing behavior thats deff. not me. and I’m pissed. I need to sleep peacefully again damnit.

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