How Ambien is used to treat insomnia


The pharmaceutical drug zolpidem, marketed under the brand names Ambien, Ambien CR, and Intermezzo, is a commonly prescribed hypnotic drug used to fall asleep and treat insomnia. What are the common side effects and dosage of Ambien? Learn about this medicine and the important precautions to take, and whether it is right for you to alleviate sleep disturbances.

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Ambien is a sleeping pill that has a direct effect on the central nervous system, in particular the brain. It induces drowsiness , is safe and effective for falling asleep and maintaining sleep. It is used to treat insomnia or acute insomnia .

You may be given a standard or controlled-release (CR) form of the drug. There is also a fast-acting form that is taken under the tongue (sublingually). They vary slightly in the time it takes for the body to metabolize, but their effects are the same.

Dosage available

Depending on the medicine used, there are different dosages of Ambien. In particular, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that women use lower doses due to potential morning hangover risks that can affect safe driving.

Dosages of various formulations of zolpidem include the following:

  • Ambien: 5 mg or 10 mg
  • Ambien CR: 6.25 mg or 12.5 mg
  • Intermezzo (sublingual): 1.75 mg or 3.5 mg

Any decision on the correct dosage should be discussed with your doctor and your entire medication list should be considered.

How does it work?

Ambien promotes the activity of GABA receptors, a special type of neurotransmitter . Neurotransmitters are chemicals that mediate between nerve cells (neurons). The additional activity of the GABA receptors suppresses the neuronal activity that contributes to insomnia.

Who shouldn't use it?

Fortunately, the risk of tolerance or dependence with long-term use of Ambien is lower than with other benzodiazepines . The drug should not be taken with alcohol or other medications that suppress the central nervous system or the respiratory system, as this can slow or stop your breathing.

It may not be the best drug if you have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, mental illness, lung or liver problems. Use with caution in elderly or debilitated people.

Common side effects

Any drug has many potential side effects. In high doses, Ambien can cause amnesia ( memory loss ), REM sleep suppression, or shortness of breath. Abruptly stopping higher doses of the drug can also cause recurrent insomnia . While a person likely won't experience most drug-related side effects, and in fact may not have any of them, some of the most common include:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness, lethargy, or a feeling of being high
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Allergic reactions
  • Sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Pharyngitis (sore throat)
  • Dry mouth
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Palpitations (irregular heartbeats)
  • Depression
  • Rash

Possible serious reactions.

There is also the risk of serious side effects with any drug. They are less common, but include:

  • Worsening depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Difficulty sleeping (such as doing activities while you sleep)
  • Hallucinations
  • Amnesia (memory loss)
  • Anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction such as a swollen throat and difficulty breathing)
  • Cancellation after abrupt discontinuation of the drug.

Safety measures

Avoid using Ambien during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some people, as mentioned above, need to use this drug with caution or not take it at all. No monitoring is required when using Ambien.

If you have any difficulties using Ambien, you should keep in close contact with your GP.

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