In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for zolpidem, trade name AmbienTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Zolpidem 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.
Zolpidem is different from zolpidem ER because it does not help you stay asleep longer, it only helps you fall asleep quicker. Zolpidem is usually taken within 15 minutes of bedtime on an empty stomach.
Make sure you have time for at least 8 hours of sleep before you take zolpidem. If you miss a dose, or if you wake up and cannot sleep, do not take zolpidem 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 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 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 chance of loss of balance and falling is 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
- Zolpidem 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 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, 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.