Zolpidem Extended-Release


In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for zolpidem ER, trade name Ambien CRTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Zolpidem ER is a sleep medication used to treat insomnia and sleep maintenance. This medication produces a calming effect in the brain which helps you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.

Zolpidem ER is different from immediate-release zolpidem because it not only helps you fall asleep quicker, it also helps you stay asleep longer.

Zolpidem ER is usually taken within 15 minutes of bedtime on an empty stomach. Do not crush or chew the zolpidem ER because you will destroy the extended release portion of the medication and get the entire dose all at once.

Make sure you have time for at least 8 hours of sleep before you take zolpidem ER. If you miss a dose, or if you wake up and cannot sleep, do not take zolpidem ER unless you are sure you do not need to get up for at least 8 hours. This medication may not keep you asleep for a full 8 hours. However, you may be dizzy or drowsy for a full 8 hours.

Your dose is based on your age, condition, and response to treatment. If the dose you are taking is not helping you fall asleep, call your doctor. Do not increase your dose of zolpidem ER without your doctor’s approval.

This medication is commonly used for 30 days or less. Do not take this medication for more than 30 days without your doctor’s advice.

Your doctor may prescribe this medication to be taken as needed. If you are taking this medication as needed, only take it when you need to get a good night’s sleep. This will help keep your body from becoming dependent on the medication and will increase the chance that it will work to help you fall asleep when you need it to.

You may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you have taken this medication on a regular basis and then stop abruptly. Talk with your doctor about this. Your doctor may gradually decrease your dose.

Most Important Warnings

  • Rare but serious injuries and death have happened with certain common prescription insomnia medicines because of sleep behaviors, including sleepwalking, sleep driving, and engaging in other activities while not fully awake. These have occurred in patients with and without a history of such behaviors, even at the lowest recommended doses, and the behaviors can occur after just one dose.

Warnings & Cautions

  • Rarely, this medication may cause a drug seeking or addictive behavior. This risk is increased if you have a history of alcohol or drug abuse. If you follow the directions on the label and stay in communication with your doctor and pharmacist, then the chances for addiction are lower.
  • Rarely, people who take zolpidem ER have had out-of-bed sleep experiences. These activities may include eating, driving, phone calling, online shopping or other experiences. Although this is rare, it may be dangerous. If there are any signs that this is happening with you, call your doctor immediately.
  • The elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication, especially the drowsiness and dizziness. The chances of loss of balance and falling are increased. If you are elderly, get out of bed slowly in the morning to reduce the chance of becoming lightheaded and falling.
  • This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking zolpidem ER.
  • Zolpidem ER is not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if zolpidem ER is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have a history of liver or kidney disease, breathing problems when you sleep, asthma or other lung disease, depression or other mental health disorder or any history of substance abuse.
  • While taking zolpidem ER, you may feel tired during the day, confused, depressed, forgetful or a mild dry mouth. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any thoughts of hurting yourself, aggression, agitation, pounding heartbeat, trouble breathing or visual or auditory hallucinations.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20