Ambien Quick Facts

Ambien is a powerful prescription sleep medication, in addition to being classified as a controlled substance in the United States. It is used to treat insomnia and poor sleep quality, usually prescribed by a psychiatrist as opposed to a primary care or family physician. It falls under the drug category of sedative-hypnotics and functions as a CNS depressant, working by slowing activity in the brain.

Doctors recommend that the drug not be taken more than five out of seven nights a week, as dependence and tolerance may set in, reducing functionality and requiring higher doses for efficacy.

Generic Name: Zolpidem

Primary Uses:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor sleep quality  
Other Uses:

  • None approved
  • Ongoing studies show use of Ambien in patients with severe brain damage may temporarily increase cognitive and speech functionality.
Availability:Ambien is available in 5 and 10 mg pills taken as needed once per day, and in controlled release formats.Contraindications: 
  • Alcoholism or Intoxication
  • Abuse or Excessive Drug Use
  • Depression
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • ADHD
  • Severe COPD
  • Compromised Liver Function
  • Memory Loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Systemic Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Suicidal Thoughts or Behaviors

Side Effects:

  • Drowsiness/Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Loss of fine motor control and balance
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain, Gas, Heartburn
  • Change in appetite
  • Abnormal sensation in extremities
  • Vivid or abnormal dreams
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing, pain, or itching in the ears
  • Eye redness
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Heavy menstration
  • Hallucination or drug like “high”

Serious Side Effects (Contact your doctor immediately and discontinue use):

  • Itching, Rash, and Hives
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, tongue, or throat, which may include the feeling of the throat closing
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Pounding Heart or Chest Pain
  • Vision Problems

Black Box Warnings: Do not use higher than recommended dose or in conjunction with other CNS depressants including alcohol or opiates which may lead to excessive sedation, lowered respiratory function which can lead to coma, and even death. It may cause sleep related behaviors including sleep walking, sleep driving, or other unusual activities. Use is recommended to be limited to four weeks maximum under close medical supervision.

Metabolization: Liver
Excretion: Kidneys
Half-Life: 2-3 Hours for both regular and CR formats

Withdrawal Effects:

Use of Ambien may result in “rebound insomnia” for one to two nights after discontinuing use.  Abrupt withdrawal from higher doses may result in delirium, seizures, and other severe effects.


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