Zolpidem ( Ambien )


What is Ambien Used To Treat?

Ambien® (Zolpidem), a short acting nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic, is used to treat insomnia on a short term basis, usually one to two weeks.

How Does Ambien Work?

Ambien initiates sleep by slowing down brain activity and producing calmness so that patient can fall asleep quickly. Ambien comes in the form of a tablet taken orally or slipped under the tongue as well as an oral spray form that is used by spraying it over the tongue. Ambien is usually fast acting with people becoming drowsy soon after taking it.

Side Effects of Ambien

Like all medications, there are side effects associated with Ambien. These side effects include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Hallucinations/delusions
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Short term memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Impaired judgment/impulsivity
  • Inappropriate behavior is social situations
  • Amnesia
  • Sleepiness
  • Impaired cognitive and psychomotor ability
  • Feeling “drugged”
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Unusual dreams
  • Burning, pain, numbness in extremities
  • Redness, tingling, burning of the tongue if Ambien is taken under the tongue
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry mouth

If these side effects do not go away, the patient should contact their health care provider.

Some side effects associated with Ambien can be serious and if experienced, a health care provider should be contacted immediately. Serious side effects include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hives
  • Pounding heart beat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like the throat is closing
  • Swelling of eyes, lips, tongue, throat, or face
  • Blurred or other vision problems

Ambien may also cause sleepwalking. Unlike other sleepwalking, where the person is incoherent, sleepwalking associated with Ambien is atypical and can be characterized by the person going about everyday tasks seemingly as though they were awake. Cases of patients taking Ambien driving, having sex, cooking and having conversations while actually asleep have been documented.


Patients taking Ambien should be aware of the following necessary precautions:

  • Health care providers should be informed about any allergies to medications
  • Health care providers should be informed about any medications or herbs the patient is already taking.
  • People with a history of alcohol or drug use may not be a candidate for Ambien and should discuss prior history with their health care provider and avoid alcohol and drugs while taking Ambien.
  • If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy inform your doctor before taking Ambien.
  • Do not take Ambien if you are breast feeding as it can be secreted in breast milk and affect a nursing baby.
  • Tell your Dentist you are taking Ambien prior to any dental surgery.
  • If you have a history of mental illness or depression please discuss this with your health care provider as Ambien may not be a good choice for you.
  • Elderly people who are a fall risk should discuss the risk with their doctor as Ambien may increase the risk of falling.
  • Ambien should only be taken at bedtime when the patient will be able to sleep at least 7 or 8 hours. The effects of Ambien may still be apparent with less sleep.

A very serious effect of Ambien is increase or worsening of mental illness, behavior issues, or suicidal and homicidal tendencies. If anyone taking Ambien experiences any of these feelings or behaviors they should consult their health care provider immediately. If their health care provider is not available they should seek medical care at an emergency room or call 911.

Always consult your physician to get the optimal use from your prescription of Ambien.


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