What is Ambien?
Ambien is the trade name of French pharmaceutical concern Sanofi-Aventis for zolpidem, a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic used for short-term intervention in insomnia. It is also of use in certain brain disorders. Ambien is very effective in helping a patient get to sleep but does not act effectively to maintain sleep. Although it has anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant effects, it is not used for this purpose because the dosage required would be at a level where side effects would be problematic.
How does Ambien work?
Ambien works by potentiating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in a similar mode of action to that of benzodiazepines.
What does Ambien look like?
Ambien is sold as a round pink pill with a strength of 6.25 mg and the imprint “A~”, a round blue pill with a strength of 12.5 mg and the imprint “A~”, an elliptical pink pill with a strength of 5 mg and the imprint “AMB 5 5401” and an elliptical white pill with a strength of 10 mg and the imprint “AMB 10 5421”.
Ambien dosing and administration
The standard initial dosage of Ambien is 10 mg taken immediately before sleeping. Older patients and those taking any kind of drug affecting the central nervous system are given a starting dose of 5 mg. Ambien should be taken without food. Because it is fast to take effect, it should not be taken until you are completely ready to sleep. It is intended for short-term use only and should not be used for more than one or two weeks. If you still need sleep medication after this, seek the advice of your doctor.
Common adverse effects from Ambien
The most common side effects of Ambien are daytime lethargy, vertigo, diarrhea, lack of coordination and light-headedness. Less common side effects which may occur are dry mouth, allergic reaction, palpitations, sinusitis, rash and abnormal dreams. In some cases there may be dangerous side effects which you should talk to your doctor about. These may included suicidal ideation, confusion, unusual extroversion or aggression, other strange behavior, depression, hallucinations, agitation, fainting, slurred speech and vision disturbances. In extremely rare cases there may be amnesia, sleepwalking, erectile dysfunction or hypertension.
Ambien warnings and precautions
You should talk to your doctor before taking Ambien if you have any history of sleep apnea, emphysema, liver or kidney disease, depression, any kind of addiction or allergies to any medicines. Alcohol should not be used while taking Ambien as it may increase the risk of certain side effects. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, you should inform your doctor of this. If you have any changes in behavior or notice any disturbing behavior or thought patterns while taking Ambien, you should discuss these with your doctor as soon as possible.
Interactions with Ambien
Ambien may interact with Alcohol, Sertraline, Rifampin, Flumazenil and other drugs which act on the central nervous system. These may included drugs intended to treat depression or anxiety.