Ambien And Your Body
The pharmaceutical drug Zolpidem – sold under the brand name of Ambien is a commonly prescribed hypnotic medication used to initiate sleep and to treat insomnia. So, it causes drowsiness and is safe and effective for initiating and maintaining sleep. It is for treating insomnia or acute insomnia.
Ambien is a hypnotic drug that has direct effects on the central nervous system, specifically the brain. Thus, Ambien promotes the activity of GABA receptors, a special type of neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that serve as messengers between nerve cells (neurons). Also, the additional activity of the GABA receptors inhibits neuron activity that contributes to insomnia.
Sleeping aid usage in the US is widespread, with around 60 million people prescribed sleeping aids each year. Within the category of sleeping aids, Ambien is a very common prescription choice.
Depending on the formulation used, there are different dosages of Ambien. Women, in particular, are advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use lower doses due to the potential risks of morning hangover effects that may impact safe driving.
The doses of the various formulations of zolpidem include Ambien 5 mg or 10 mg. Any decision regarding the proper dose should be discussed with your prescribing physician and consideration of your entire list of medications should occur.
Ambien Side Effects
There are many potential side effects of any drug. At high doses, Ambien may cause amnesia, suppression of REM sleep, or breathing difficulties. Abrupt cessation of the medication at higher doses may also cause rebound insomnia. Although an individual likely won’t experience most side effects associated with the drug – and may indeed not have any of them – some that commonly occur include:
- Drowsiness, lethargy, or a “drugged” feeling
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Back pain
- Allergic reactions
- Dry mouth
- Flu-like symptoms
Potential Serious Side Effects
With the use of any drug, there are also risks of serious side effects. These occur more rarely, but include:
- Worsening depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Aggressive behavior
- Complex sleep-related behaviors (such as doing activities while asleep)
- Amnesia (memory loss)
- Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction such as throat swelling and difficulties breathing)
- Withdrawal after stopping the drug abruptly
Ambien Warnings And Precautions
The medication should not be taken with alcohol or with other drugs that suppress the central nervous system or respiratory system, as it may slow or stop your breathing.
Additionally, it may not be the best drug to use if you have a history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, depression, psychiatric disorders, lung, or liver problems. It must be used with caution in the elderly or debilitated.
Pregnant and/or breastfeeding moms should avoid Ambien. Also, certain individuals, as mentioned above, should use the medication with caution or not at all. There is no monitoring necessary with Ambien’s use.
Most importantly, if you experience any difficulties with the use of Ambien, you should therefore be in close contact with your primary health provider.