Ambien (Zolpidem)

Also known as Zolpidem, Ambien is a common drug that’s used to help treat issues with insomnia. Acting as a benzodiazepine receptor agonist, the drug was approved by the FDA back in 1992, and it helps individuals fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer periods.

Considering Ambien has been on the market for decades now, it’s seen as a primary solution for anyone suffering from insomnia. Another aspect of the drug that’s made it a viable solution is that it doesn’t have a strong link to any kind of liver energy. This makes it a good option for short and long-term usage.

In this article, you’ll find in-depth information on Ambien, how it works, why it’s used, and other essential information regarding the efficacy of the drug.

An Overview

People who suffer from a lack of sleep due to insomnia can look to Ambien for help. Although insomnia is a health issue that can be looked at from different angles, Ambien works well for cases of short-term insomnia.

For maximum effectiveness, it’s essential that the drug is used as directed, as this will also guarantee an effective tolerability profile. Doctors prescribe Ambien to those with insomnia for a number of reasons. One big factor that makes the drug a go-to choice is that it’s known for a low risk of tolerance issues, dependence, and complications with withdrawal.

Even if Ambien is a starting option for those with short-term insomnia, it has also proven effective for people dealing with chronic insomnia. It's also important to note that it has properties that act as a muscle relaxant, and it can make patients feel relatively sedated.

How does Ambien work?

Ambien is effective thanks to its depressant effects on the central nervous system. Although it can help with sleep disorders, there’s a good chance it’ll cause a number of changes in psychomotor function, such as drowsiness, dizziness, or a feeling of fatigue.

There have been many different controlled studies that focus on the efficacy of Ambien and its overall use. It’s important to mention that there isn’t any significance of memory impairment the day after use, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

Depending on the dosage and the length of use, Ambien has been shown to cause instances of sleepwalking in some individuals.

Thanks to modern clinical studies, Ambien has shown that it can decrease the latency of sleep for up to 35 days. Of course, this information was generated in a controlled environment, but it displays promise for what Ambien is able to do.

Based on FDA recommendations, men are suggested to take only 5 to 10mg of an initial dose of Ambien and only 5mg for women. Dosages may change over time depending on the exact situation of each patient.

Part of why Ambien is effective for insomniacs is that it aims to preserve multiple sleep stages. However, it only offers minimal changes to REM sleep when taking the dose that's recommended.

Understanding dosage

Regardless of how common Ambien might be, it’s vital that patients take the correct dose every time. Dosage doesn’t come with a universal approach, as a physician may offer specific instructions based on the needs of the patient.

For a good rule of thumb, taking the lowest effective dose is the best route. This helps to decrease the potential risk of mental or physical impairment the next day.

However, if the medication labeling states different directions for dosage, it’s vital to follow it without fail.

At usual doses, there isn’t any evidence of rebound insomnia occurring. Then again, at higher doses, Ambien has been shown to actually cause impaired sleep in elderly patients. This issue isn’t a guarantee, but it’s something that has been noted through clinical trials.

Not only does Ambien help increase the duration of sleep, but it also works to minimize awakenings throughout the night. Most people are used to taking Ambien in pill form, but the drug is available in spray form as well.

Additionally, doctors may prescribe either a fast-acting or extended-release form of Ambien. There’s no doubt that Ambien can be helpful, but years of research and application have shown there are a few potential risks involved.

Potential side effects and health risks

The known side effects and risks associated with taking Ambien may not be common, but it's vital to understand what's possible. Each patient is different, and several factors can play into the development of certain side effects or health risks.

The strength of certain side effects can vary as well, as some experiences can be mild to much more severe.

Some general side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

More severe side effects can include some of the following:

  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the face
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision

These potential side effects shouldn’t be alarming, as their instances are extremely rare throughout history. Nevertheless, all of these factors should be discussed with a physician before taking Ambien. Some patients with pre-existing conditions or other health complications may be more susceptible to certain risk factors.

Most harms associated with taking Ambien pertain to overdoses, falls, accidents, and even infections. In more extreme cases, those on higher doses of Ambien may be more likely to encounter severe accidents.

From vehicular accidents to certain civil actions, higher doses of Ambien can potentially impair cognition and self-awareness.

High doses and abuse

In a similar fashion to many other kinds of prescription drugs, Ambien can easily be abused. It’s known that there is an epidemic of the abuse of Ambien, and most of it pertains to individuals taking much higher doses.

Administration of the drug is a part of this equation too. Ambien is primarily taken orally in pill form or as a spray. Many people who decide to abuse the drug may take a dose that’s higher than what they’re prescribed.

Other scenarios of drug abuse include combing Ambien with other drugs and even dissolving Ambien to inject the medication directly into the bloodstream.

Every form of abuse can be highly dangerous to the human body and the overall scope of the patient's health.

Abuse of Ambien has caused quite a bit of controversy in the healthcare market. It isn’t something that can be eliminated entirely, but through proper administration and education, the number of people that partake in drug abuse can be reduced.

Important precautions

Even if Ambien is a common drug on the market, there are a decent number of precautions that every patient should consider. Before allowing your doctor to prescribe Ambien, it’s essential that you discuss other medications you may be taking in addition to any known allergies.

It’s crucial for patients to take only one type of sleeping medication at a time. Those who suffer from insomnia should only rely on their prescribed Ambien medication and avoid all others in the meantime. Other aspects, such as vitamins, herbal products, or supplements, should all be discussed with a doctor as well.

Certain health conditions can potentially increase the risks associated with Ambien. For those who deal with sleep apnea, depression, mental illness, kidney, liver, or lung disease, your doctor may reconsider prescribing Ambien or adjust your dose.

Ambien has displayed an increase in potential health complications among older individuals. In many cases, a doctor may avoid prescribing Ambien to elderly people.

The drug has shown that it may not be safe or nearly as effective for the elderly, and other medications are available that are more effective for this age group.

It’s crucial that patients avoid drinking alcohol while taking Ambien as it can cause side effects to be much worse than expected. Patients should understand that Ambien has the ability to change aspects of mental and behavioral health.

From anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and even suicidal thoughts, patients must communicate with their doctor if any of these occur.

In Summary

Aside from the pros and cons associated with Ambien, it's still a highly trusted medication for individuals who suffer from insomnia. The symptoms associated with insomnia can significantly affect the quality of life and cause many other health issues if left untreated.

Insomnia may be manageable without medication with the right help, but it isn’t a health problem that should be ignored. Whether someone has been dealing with it for a short or long period of time, it never hurts to discuss it with a healthcare professional.