Generic Name: zolpidem (zole PI dem)
Brand Names: Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist
Medically reviewed on May 1, 2017
What is Ambien?
Ambien (zolpidem) is a sedative, also called a hypnotic. Zolpidem affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with sleep problems insomnia).
Ambien is used to treat insomnia. The immediate-release tablet is used to help you fall asleep when you first go to bed. The extended-release form, Ambien CR, which has a first layer that dissolves quickly to help you fall asleep, and a second layer that dissolves slowly to help you stay asleep.
Your doctor will determine which form of Ambien is best for you.
Ambien may impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking this medicine, especially if you take the extended-release tablet, or if you are a woman. Wait at least 4 hours or until you are fully awake before you do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.
Zolpidem cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking this medicine and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Do not share this medication with another person, even if they have the same symptoms you have. The recommended doses of zolpidem are not the same in men and women, and this drug is not approved for use in children. Misuse of this medication can result in dangerous side effects.
Some people using this medicine have engaged in activity such as driving, eating, walking, making phone calls, or having sex and later having no memory of the activity. If this happens to you, stop taking Ambien and talk with your doctor about another treatment for your sleep disorder.
Do not take this medicine if you have consumed alcohol during the day or just before bed.
Zolpidem may be habit forming. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.
Before taking this medicine
Some people using Ambien have engaged in activity such as driving, eating, walking, making phone calls, or having sex and later having no memory of the activity. If this happens to you, stop taking Ambien and talk with your doctor about another treatment for your sleep disorder.
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to zolpidem. The tablets may contain lactose. Use caution if you are sensitive to lactose.
To make sure Ambien is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
lung disease such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep);
a history of depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts; or
a history of drug or alcohol addiction.
Ambien may be habit forming and should be used only by the person it was prescribed for. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.
It is not known whether Ambien will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
Zolpidem can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
The sedative effects of zolpidem may be stronger in older adults.
Do not give this medicine to anyone younger than 18 years of age.
It is dangerous to try and purchase Ambien on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. Medications distributed from Internet sales may contain dangerous ingredients, or may not be distributed by a licensed pharmacy. Samples purchased on the Internet have been found to contain haloperidol (Haldol), a potent antipsychotic drug with dangerous side effects. For more information, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or visit www.fda.gov/buyonlineguide.
How should I take Ambien?
In January 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lowered the recommended dose for Ambien, Edluar, and Zolpimist. If you have taken zolpidem in the past, your doctor may direct you to take a lower dose of this medicine than you did before.
Take Ambien exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Never take this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed.
Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Ambien may be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.
Do not share this medication with another person, even if they have the same symptoms you have. The recommended doses of Ambien are not the same in men and women, and this drug is not approved for use in children. Misuse of this medication can result in dangerous side effects.
Never take this medicine if you do not have a full 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active again.
Ambien is for short-term use only. Tell your doctor if your insomnia symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse after using this medication for 7 to 10 nights in a row. Do not take this medicine for longer than 4 or 5 weeks without your doctor's advice.
Do not stop using Ambien suddenly after long-term use, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to avoid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the medicine.
Insomnia symptoms may also return after you stop taking Ambien. These symptoms may seem to be even worse than before you started taking the medication. Call your doctor if you still have worsened insomnia after the first few nights without taking zolpidem.
Do not crush, chew, or break an Ambien CR tablet. Swallow the pill whole.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What happens if I miss a dose?
Since Ambien is taken only at bedtime if needed, you are not likely to miss a dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of Ambien can be fatal, especially when it is taken together with other medications that can cause drowsiness.
Overdose symptoms may include sleepiness, confusion, shallow breathing, feeling light-headed, fainting, or coma.
What should I avoid?
Ambien may impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking this medicine, especially if you take the extended-release tablet, or if you are a woman. Wait until you are fully awake before you drive, operate machinery, pilot an airplane, or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.
Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.
Avoid taking Ambien during travel, such as to sleep on an airplane. You may be awakened before the effects of the medication have worn off. Amnesia (forgetfulness) is more common if you do not get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep after taking Ambien.
Do not take this medicine if you have consumed alcohol during the day or just before bed.
Ambien side effects
Ambien may cause a severe allergic reaction. Stop taking Ambien and get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction to zolpidem: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: depression, anxiety, aggression, agitation, confusion, unusual thoughts, hallucinations, memory problems, changes in personality, risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger, or thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself.
Stop using Ambien and call your doctor at once if you have:
chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, feeling short of breath;
trouble breathing or swallowing; or
feeling like you might pass out.
Common Ambien side effects may include:
daytime drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, feeling "drugged" or light-headed;
tired feeling, loss of coordination;
stuffy nose, dry mouth, nose or throat irritation;
nausea, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach; or
headache, muscle pain.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Ambien?
Taking Ambien with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, prescription cough medicine, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with Ambien, especially:
itraconazole or ketoconazole;
an antidepressant - imipramine, sertraline.
Many drugs can interact with zolpidem, making it less effective or increasing side effects. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with Ambien. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Ambien only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 11.01.
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- Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics