Ambien is a powerful sleep aid that is used to help combat insomnia. This drug should only be used for severe sleep trouble and should be restricted to those who can carefully monitor their condition. Though side effects occur in less than 10 percent of the population, the side effects people report can be quite severe. You will need to talk with your doctor about this risk and any precautions that are necessary to avoid such complications before you begin your prescription.
Indications and Usage
Ambien, also sold as Ambien CR is typically used to treat insomnia or other difficulties with sleep maintenance. This drug uses the main ingredient zolpidem to assist in the process of falling asleep. Ambien is available in 6.25 mg and 12.5 mg tablets. These should not be scored, broken, chewed or crushed prior to swallowing. You should not take Ambien with food or directly after a meal. This will slow the process of absorption which will make it difficult for the medication to have the necessary effects. Those with allergies to zolpidem tartrate should not take Ambien.
Those with a history of mental instability may not be able to take Ambien. There is a history of patients developing mental instability or acting out while they are asleep which is significantly increased in this population. You will need to talk these risks over with your doctor to determine whether or not it is safe to take this medication.
The typical dose for an adult is 12.5 mg or one full sized tablet directly before going to bed. Doses may be adjusted based on your reaction to the medication. If your insomnia persists after a week to 10 days you should consult your doctor about whether nor not Ambien is an appropriate sleep aid for you. The minimum effective dose of this medication is 5 mg, while the maximum is 12.5 mg, though people with restricted dosing are limited to 10 mg.
Children under the age of 17 should not use Ambien. Clinical studies have shown that this age group does not respond to this medication and are at a significantly higher risk of developing side effects.
Seniors, defined as those over 65 years of age, are restricted to 6.25 mg daily rather than a full dose. Those who are currently using CNS depressants to treat another condition should use a restricted dose or may be restricted from using Ambien all together. Those who suffer from sleep apnea should use a low dose and keep their condition monitored closely while on Ambien to avoid breathing complications which could be life threatening.
Pregnant women are also restricted from using Ambien due to the potential damage to the fetus that may occur when it is exposed to the main ingredients in Ambien.
Patients with depression may need to take a lower dose of Ambien than the standard dosing for adults. This drug may interact with medications you are already taking to control your disease, including the risk of an overdose. There have also been occurrences where the medication has made depression or other mental disorders worse and the symptoms more severe.
Ambien Side Effects
Mental reactions to Ambien occur in many patients. Occurrences of sleep driving, hallucinations, abnormal thinking, behavioral changes, depression or thoughts of suicide have been reported. If you notice any of these conditions, stop taking Ambien immediately and talk to your doctor about how to proceed. These side effects appear to be more common in elderly patients or those with a prior history of mental disorder, especially if they are currently using CNS depressants.
In extreme cases, Ambien may cause memory loss or extreme anxiety. While these symptoms are not common, they can lead to a more severe mental reaction. Talk with your doctor about how you feel while taking your medication and carefully monitor your condition so help avoid a potential reaction.
Due to the nature of the medication, you should not drive or do any tasks that will require your full attention while you are using Ambien. There is a significant concern that you will fall asleep while you are performing these tasks, which could cause injury to yourself or others. Dizziness, confusion, unsteadiness or drowsiness upon waking are also common while using Ambien. Rest will typically improve these symptoms. If they do not improve, talk to your doctor about how to adjust your dose to help avoid these symptoms.
Unless deliberately told to stop your prescription right away, do not stop taking Ambien suddenly. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms which could be dangerous for the patient. If you have stopped taking our medication and you begin to develop headaches, flu-like symptoms, nervousness, tremors or a general feeling of unease then contract a medical professional to determine what the best course of action would be. If you plan to stop taking Ambien, talk with your doctor about a step-down program that will help ease your body from the dependence on the medication.
Ambien is listed as a controlled substance by the FDA. There is a high risk for abuse, especially with those who have a history of prescription drug abuse. If you notice any dependent behavior in a patient taking Ambien, you should inform their doctor as soon as possible. This includes twitching, nervousness, difficulty relaxing or sleeping without the drug, changes in mood or behavior or combining Ambien with alcohol. This condition is treatable, but abuse of Ambien will need to be addressed by a professional step-down program.
Those who are pregnant should not use Ambien. In laboratory studies it has been shown that the main ingredient, zolpidem can cause damage to the fetus. Those who are breastfeeding will transfer these ingredients to their infants. Children are shown to have an increased likelihood of developing hallucinations or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when exposed to Ambien.
You should not use Ambien alongside any CNS depressants. This includes alcohol or any other substance that might cause psychomotor impairment. Specific drugs that are known to cause reactions when used alongside Ambien include Imipramine which causes decreased alertness when taken in conjunction with the sleep aid. Chlorpromazine can also cause decreased alertness and a decrease in psychomotor performance. Rifampin can cause an overexposure to zolpidem when paired with Ambien which can cause an overdose, as can ketoconazole.