The People's Perspective on Medicine

In Praise of Ambien

Q. After reading all the complaints about Ambien, I would like to put in a good word for this sleeping pill. I’ve had trouble sleeping all my life. When I finally fell asleep, I had a hard time waking up.

A year ago my doctor prescribed Ambien. I only need half a pill to give me solid sleep. I wake up easily, feeling refreshed.

Before this I couldn’t go walking because I wasn’t able to get up early to beat the Florida heat. Now I walk a mile and a half every morning and feel great! I also work in the garden, paint, make quilts and knit. Ambien has changed my life for the better.

A. Like you, many do get a good night’s sleep on Ambien (zolpidem). Others have reported sleep walking or driving, which can be dangerous.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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This drug saved me life. In my mid 40’s, the insomnia that had plagued me my whole life kicked into high gear. I lay in bed night after night with no relief. I tried herbs, over the counter stuff, alcohol (hangovers ruined the day after), all to no avail.
So many people believe that insomnia is caused by anxiety.

Folks, this is not always the case. My brain just stopped shifting down into sleep mode. That simple. I am a relatively calm person and my thoughts naturally wind down at the end of the day, and I had a routine of reading a few minutes before bed and then dozing off. That routine ended when I hit menopause and my body went haywire. The doc tried hormones, melatonin, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs…all which made me feel like a zombie and did nothing for the insomnia.

I am not depressed, I kept telling him, I am just exhausted. Ambien worked like a charm and without it I would have gone out of my mind for lack of sleep. Yes, you have to be careful and not take it unless you are in bed and ready for rest, but it will put you to sleep like nothing else.

For 32 years I suffered with severe fatigue during the day and equally intense insomnia at night. Since beginning Ambien, I am falling asleep on schedule and waking up happy, not dreading the day. All these years of tossing and turning led me in to severe depression upon waking. Before Ambien, I never once jumped up out of bed feeling alert and awake in the morning. I always shrugged it off saying I’m just not a morning person. Turns out I just wasn’t getting good rest at night. Ambien has been as much an antidepressant as it has a sleep aid. I thank the lord for Ambien.

I have nocturia (frequent night urination). I can easily go to the bathroom 6-8 times a night. Even watching my fluid intake and trying to get sleep during the day doesn’t help. I’m 65 years old, female and have been on Ambien for about 5 months. Finally, I can fall back to sleep after the first three or four times of getting up to urinate. Thank God for Ambien. My insurance company is very concerned, however, and has sent me letters stating that they will no longer pay for this medication (I am taking the generic.) Because of the “increased dangers” of those over 65 taking this medication. I wish that insurance companies would make their decisions based on a case by case basis instead of generalizing. I have never sleep walked, talked to myself or have done any of the other reported things others “might” do while on this drug. (I have been told that I snore, however.)

I have been taking zolbidem, generic of ambien for 10 yrs. For two months tried the 12 1/2 CR. went back to 10 because of the total cost of the drug towards the donut hole. With CR I probably slept 1 hour longer at most. Takes 15 to 20 min. to knock me out and during this time my wife tells me of the talking and eating prior to sleep that is news to me. The laughs she gets and the 4 to 5 hours of restful sleep is worth it. I am fine in the morning with no side effects. Am I hooked? Yes. But without it my mind keeps thinking of things I’ve done, should have done or need to do. Lucky to have gotten 1 or 2 hours of off and on sleep. I’m a believer.

After the birth of my child, I had a difficult time sleeping. The tireder I got the less I could sleep. My OB gave me Ambien to help me get sleep. At first I was concerned but I hadn’t slept in days so my husband promised to listen for the baby. I have to say, without this medicine, I would never have made it through my insomnia. I would advise that if you take this drug, you let a loved one know so they can look out for you. I have tried to do a few stupid things while on this drug, like put stupid things on facebook and emailing people stupid things. Each time, my husband stopped me……YOU CANNOT USE THIS MEDICINE WITHOUT A WING MAN!

I find Ambien or zolpidem very helpful, but avoid taking it for more than a few days at a stretch. When I stop, I find that I have a lot of dreaming to catch up on for two or three nights

I have been on ambien for three years now, although they do not put me to sleep anymore. But once I fall asleep I do get a good night rest. I just started taking the generic brand cause workman comp stopped paying for brand name. I have found that zolpidem works just as well as Ambien. I have had back/neck and leg problems for almost eleven years now. Thank the lord for sleeping pills.

How do you split it in thirds? I have no trouble with one-half, but when I try for thirds, I end up with lots of little pieces, trying to assemble them into thirds.

I have used ambien for the past year following mastectomies and chemo. Now I only take about 1/3 tablet along with a tablet of melatonin. Most nights I sleep okay, occasionally awaken several times. I have never had a problem with ambien, actually the generic zolpidem. I do believe it helps me to fall asleep.

I have been using Ambian for years and like anything else, you have to use common sense. I am so tired of hearing people taking it before driving, or take 3 or 4 and the government gets all upset and wants to ban using it.

I had taken ambien cr very occasionally. One prescription lasted a long time. I went for a refill just to have on hand. The druggist asked if I would like a generic. It is an expensive drug so I said yes. It turned out that the non-cr puts you to sleep very quickly. I mistook it for amlodepine which I take for blood pressure in mid morning and within a short time I had literally fallen down and my husband found me semi-conscious on the floor.
This happened several times with an overnight trip to the emergency room in between. They did not ask me about medication and I don’t know what I would have answered if they had so many tests were done with no conclusions. I finally figured out the pill mistake, ambien and amlodepine look very much alike and I had put them in a weekly pill box.
It could have been so much worse. The generic and the cr are two very different sleeping meds and pharmacists should be aware. Had I been driving a car it could have been a disaster.

I have been taking Ambien for years due to ptsd from Viet-Nam. It help reduce the number of nightmares. Just do not drink with it.

Ditto. Ambien (Zolpidem now) has completely transformed my life for the better. No negative issues to report.

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