|Ambien Ambien

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Generic name: Zolpidem tartrate
Brand names: Ambien

Why is Ambien prescribed?

Ambien is used for short-term treatment of insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or early awakening). A relatively new drug, it is chemically different from other common sleep medications such as Halcion and Dalmane.

Most important fact about Ambien

Sleep problems are usually temporary and require medication for a week or two at most. Insomnia that lasts longer could be a sign of another medical problem. If you find that you need this medicine for more than 7 to 10 days, be sure to check with your doctor.

How should you take Ambien?

Ambien works very quickly. Take it just before going to bed. Take only the prescribed dose, exactly as instructed by your doctor.

--If you miss a dose...

Take Ambien only as needed. Never double the dose.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature. Protect from extreme heat.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor immediately. Only your doctor can determine whether it is safe to continue taking Ambien.

  • More common side effects may include:
    Allergy, daytime drowsiness, dizziness, drugged feeling, headache, indigestion, nausea

Why should Ambien not be prescribed?

There are no known situations in which Ambien cannot be used.

Special warnings about Ambien

When sleep medications are used every night for more than a few weeks, some may lose their effectiveness. Remember, too, that you can become dependent on some sleep medications if you use them for a long time or at high doses.

Some people using Ambien--especially those taking serotonin-boosting antidepressants--have experienced unusual changes in their thinking and/or behavior. Alert your doctor if you notice a change.

Ambien and other sleep medicines can cause a special type of memory loss. It should not be taken on an overnight airplane flight of less than 7 to 8 hours, since "traveler"s amnesia" may occur.

When you first start taking Ambien, until you know whether the medication will have any "carry over" effect the next day, use extreme care while doing anything that requires complete alertness, such as driving a car or operating machinery. Older adults, in particular, should be aware that they may be more apt to fall.

Use Ambien cautiously if you have liver problems. It will take longer for its effects to wear off.

If you take Ambien for more than 1 or 2 weeks, consult your doctor before stopping. Sudden discontinuation of a sleep medicine can bring on withdrawal symptoms ranging from unpleasant feelings to vomiting and cramps.

When taking Ambien, do not drink alcohol. It can increase the drug"s side effects.

If you have breathing problems, they may become worse when you use Ambien.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Ambien

If Ambien is used with certain other drugs, the effects of either drug could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Ambien with the following:

The antidepressant drug imipramine (Tofranil)
The antipsychotic drug chlorpromazine
Serotonin-boosting antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft
Drugs that depress the central nervous system, including Valium, Percocet, and Benadryl

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Babies whose mothers take some sedative/hypnotic drugs may have withdrawal symptoms after birth and may seem limp and flaccid. Ambien is not recommended for use by nursing mothers.

Recommended dosage


The recommended dosage for adults is 10 milligrams right before bedtime. Your doctor will prescribe a smaller dose if you are likely to be sensitive to the drug or have a liver problem. Never take more than 10 milligrams of Ambien per day.


Safety and effectiveness have not been established in children below the age of 18.


Because older people and those in a weakened condition may be more sensitive to Ambien"s effects, the recommended starting dosage is 5 milligrams just before bedtime.


People who take too much Ambien may become excessively sleepy or even go into a light coma. The symptoms of overdose are more severe if the person is also taking other drugs that depress the central nervous system. Some cases of multiple overdose have been fatal.

If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

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