Generic Name: zolpidem (Oral route)
Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Ambien CR
Available Dosage Forms:
- Tablet, Extended Release
Therapeutic Class: Nonbarbiturate Hypnotic
Uses For Ambien
Zolpidem is used to treat insomnia (trouble sleeping). It belongs to the group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants. These medicines will slow down the nervous system. Zolpidem will help you get to sleep faster and sleep through the night. In most cases, sleep medicines should only be used for short periods of time, such as 1 or 2 days, and for no longer than 1 or 2 weeks.
This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using Ambien
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Use of zolpidem is not recommended in children. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of zolpidem in the elderly. However, confusion, dizziness, and falling are more likely to occur in the elderly, who are more sensitive than younger adults to the effects of zolpidem.
|All Trimesters||C||Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.|
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Sodium Oxybate
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Chloral Hydrate
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Opium Alkaloids
Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- St John's Wort
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using this medicine with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use this medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Alcohol abuse, history of or
- Drug abuse or dependence, history of—Dependence on zolpidem may develop.
- Depression, or history of or
- Lung disease or other breathing problems or
- Mental illness, history of or
- Myasthenia gravis (muscle disease) or
- Sleep apnea (breathing problems during sleep)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Liver disease—Use with caution. Higher blood levels of zolpidem may result, increasing the chance of side effects.
Proper Use of zolpidem
This section provides information on the proper use of a number of products that contain zolpidem. It may not be specific to Ambien. Please read with care.
Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. If too much is taken, it may become habit-forming (causing mental or physical dependence).
This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Take zolpidem just before going to bed, when you are ready to go to sleep. This medicine works very quickly to put you to sleep.
Swallow the extended-release tablet whole. Do not divide, crush, or chew it.
Do not take this medicine when your schedule does not permit you to get a full night's sleep (7 to 8 hours). If you must wake up before this, you may continue to feel drowsy and may experience memory problems, because the effects of the medicine have not had time to wear off.
Zolpidem should not be taken with food or right after a meal. It will work faster if you take it on an empty stomach.
Do not take this medicine if you have drank alcohol the same evening.
The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For treatment of insomnia:
- For oral dosage form (extended-release tablets):
- Adults—6.25 milligrams (mg) (for women) or 6.25 or 12.5 mg (for men) once a day at bedtime. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, do not take more than 12.5 mg per day. Take only 1 dose a night if needed.
- Older adults—6.25 mg once a day at bedtime.
- Children—Use is not recommended.
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- Adults—5 milligrams (mg) for women and 5 or 10 mg for men once a day at bedtime. Your doctor may increase your dose as needed. However, do not take more than 10 mg per day. Take only 1 dose a night if needed.
- Older adults—5 mg once a day at bedtime.
- Children—Use is not recommended.
- For oral dosage form (extended-release tablets):
If you miss a dose of this medicine, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Use this medicine only when you cannot sleep. You do not need to keep a schedule for taking it.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using Ambien
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.
Zolpidem may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, hives, trouble breathing or swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, mouth, or throat while you are using this medicine.
If you think you need to take zolpidem for more than 7 to 10 days, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Insomnia that lasts longer than this may be a sign of another medical problem.
This medicine will add to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (medicines that make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, other allergies, or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are using this medicine.
This medicine may cause some people, especially older persons, to become drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, clumsy or unsteady, or less alert than they are normally. Even though zolpidem is taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert on arising. Also, this medicine may cause double vision or other vision problems, or severe injuries (eg, hip fractures, severe bleeding in the head). Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert or not able to see well.
If you develop any unusual and strange thoughts or behavior while you are taking zolpidem, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Some changes that have occurred in people taking this medicine are like those seen in people who drink alcohol and then act in a manner that is not normal. Other changes may be more unusual and extreme, such as confusion, worsening of depression, hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there), suicidal thoughts, and unusual excitement, nervousness, or irritability.
This medicine may cause you to do things while you are still asleep that you may not remember the next morning. It is possible you could drive a car, sleepwalk, have sex, make phone calls, or prepare and eat food while you are asleep or not fully awake. Tell your doctor right away if you learn that this has happened.
Do not change your dose or stop taking it without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are taking before stopping completely. Stopping this medicine suddenly may cause withdrawal side effects.
If you think you or someone else may have taken an overdose of this medicine, get emergency help at once. Taking an overdose of zolpidem or taking alcohol or other CNS depressants with zolpidem may lead to breathing problems and unconsciousness. Some signs of an overdose are severe drowsiness, severe nausea or vomiting, staggering, and troubled breathing.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Ambien Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Chest pain
- confusion about identity, place, and time
- false or unusual sense of well-being
- fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
- feeling sad or empty
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- lack of appetite
- loss of interest or pleasure
- shakiness and unsteady walk
- trouble concentrating
- trouble sleeping
- unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Less common or rare
- bladder pain
- bloody or cloudy urine
- burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
- cold sweats
- decreased awareness or responsiveness
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from lying or sitting position
- dry mouth
- frequent urge to urinate
- irregular heartbeats
- lower back or side pain
- quick to react or overreact emotionally
- rapidly changing moods
- seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
- severe sleepiness
- shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
- shortness of breath
- trembling or shaking of the hands or feet
- Attack, assault, or force
- black, tarry stools
- change in walking and balance
- clumsiness or unsteadiness
- difficulty swallowing
- hives, itching, or skin rash
- lack of feeling or emotion
- pale skin
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- swollen glands
- thoughts of killing oneself or changes in behavior
- tightness in the chest
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unusual bleeding or bruising
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- muscle aches
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- stuffy or runny nose
- Abdominal or stomach discomfort
- acid or sour stomach
- back pain
- being forgetful
- body aches or pain
- difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
- difficulty with moving
- double vision
- feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
- longer or heavier menstrual periods
- loss of memory
- muscle pain or stiffness
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- seeing double
- sensation of spinning
- tender, swollen glands in the neck
- unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness
- voice changes
Less common or rare
- Bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
- breast pain
- change in taste
- changes in patterns and rhythms of speech
- increased sweating
- itching of the vagina or genital area
- pain during sexual intercourse
- paleness of the skin
- slurred speech
- thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
- Blemishes on the skin
- blurred vision
- change in near or distance vision
- decreased interest in sexual intercourse
- difficulty in focusing eyes
- eye pain
- feeling of warmth
- frequent urge to defecate
- inability to have or keep an erection
- increased appetite
- increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
- lack or loss of strength
- loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn
- stomach upset
- straining while passing stool
- weight loss
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics